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Online Fundraising & Giving

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Talking Shop: In with the Fund Crowd
CURRENTS Article Jonathan May launched the U.K. digital fundraising technology startup Hubbub, which serves the education and nonprofit sectors, with Duncan Knox in 2011. The company is expanding its U.S. operations after winning $1 million in venture capital funding in 2016 through the VentureClash investment challenge. Currents spoke with May while he was in the U.S. studying digital fundraising and alumni relations practices at more than 40 colleges and universities. His travels confirmed the importance of relationships in fundraising—even online. “I think there’s a lot more than technology behind the success of different programs,” he says.

Quote of Note
CURRENTS Article Writer Stephen Lurie supports the values of his alma mater but argues that direct giving (often through crowdfunding platforms) that helps alumni relieve their student debt is more impactful.

Revamping the Annual Fund
CURRENTS Article Educational institutions famously undervalue the annual fund, perceiving it merely as a means to unrestricted funds. Recently, however, a growing number of institutions are recognizing how valuable the annual fund is to the organization's long-term health. To gain footing in annual giving, institutions need to assess their programs and constituents, as well as consider trends in the field. For one, many donors have come to expect choice. In a highly competitive philanthropic market, allowing donors to decide where their money goes could make a significant difference in participation. In addition, using the myriad outreach channels available today will pay dividends. Focusing on broad participation, encouraging restricted giving, and using multiple communication channels are key tactics to consider. Here's how four institutions revamped annual giving and achieved results.

The Mane Event
CURRENTS Article In July 2015, the host of the late-night television show Jimmy Kimmel Live! ranted to viewers about the death of Cecil, a beloved lion shot in Zimbabwe by an American hunter. The comedian shared the website for the University of Oxford's Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU), which had tracked Cecil, and encouraged viewers to give. In 10 days, WildCRU received £547,147 from nearly 13,000 donors. Here are some of the successes and challenges WildCRU faced.

Crowd Control
CURRENTS Article A small but growing number of institutions have launched centralized, full-service crowdfunding programs that lend know-how to students, faculty, and even alumni running their own campaigns.

Cupid and the Cause
CURRENTS Article Male donors tend to one-up each other to look more appealing to an attractive female fundraiser, according to the study "Competitive Helping in Online Giving," published in Current Biology in May 2015.

Goodbye Galas?
CURRENTS Article Hilbert College's No-Tie Gala is a virtual fundraising affair no one attends.

Swift Gratitude
CURRENTS Article Giving days prompt institutions to send speedy, creative, and social thank you messages to their donors

Direct to the Heart
CURRENTS Article At the University of Leeds, we were beginning to wonder whether direct mail would ever work for us or whether the telephone would always be our annual giving program's primary source of donors and income. Then we tried a new strategy: We stopped talking about ourselves all the time. We talked to alumni and donors about their experiences instead.

5 Tech Trends That May Transform Fundraising
CURRENTS Article From bitcoins to mobile wallets, how donors give is changing. Are educational institutions prepared?

Odds and Ends: Multiplying Philanthropy
CURRENTS Article In 2012, #GivingTuesday arrived to shift shoppers' attention back to the real meaning of the season with a global day of giving. The idea for the campaign, founded by New York's 92nd Street Y in partnership with the United Nations Foundation, emerged from a spring 2012 discussion with supporters of Stanford University's Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society.

The 8 Steps Muhlenberg College Took to Exceed 910 Donors on 11-12-13
CURRENTS Article For Muhlenberg College's first Day of Giving campaign, participation was the priority. We set out to inspire 910 donors to make an annual gift on 11/12/13, and a record-setting 1,430 donors gave during that 24-hour period. Here's how you, too, can create a successful giving day.

Learning to Lose Control
CURRENTS Article As alumni and other audiences find new ways to connect, network, and give, our roles as the essential interfaces between our institutions and their various external audiences are becoming more unstable. To understand the problem, and to address this challenge proactively instead of reactively, we need to understand the concept of disintermediation: a reduction in the use of intermediaries.

Big Question
CURRENTS Article Readers sound off about whether a Give or Donate button should appear on a university’s home page.

Pass or Fail?
CURRENTS Article Michigan State University turns a prank by rival University of Michigan into a fundraising opportunity.

Crowd Around
CURRENTS Article As educational institutions become more creative in raising money for their missions, some are turning to crowdfunding. This article explores how educational institutions are using this online platform and to what effect.

A Weird, Wonderful Gift
CURRENTS Article When a protest threatened to undermine an institution's character, students, alumni, and administrators fought back.

Giving Under the Influence
CURRENTS Article This data piece illustrates how online givers are influenced by the size of the donation that precedes them.

Going for Gold
CURRENTS Article The story profiles eight of the 2012 CASE Circle of Excellence Award grand gold and gold award winners.

Impulsive Action
CURRENTS Article A survey of donors who gave to the Haiti earthquake relief effort offers insight into the giving habits of mobile donors.

Gaming the System
CURRENTS Article Some colleges find Razoo, an online platform that helps nonprofits and individuals raise money, a fun way (literally) to rally alumni behind giving.

Social Media Donor Rankings
CURRENTS Article In the U.K., Twitter users give the largest online gifts, but the bulk of gifts come via Facebook.

Gift of Less Gab
CURRENTS Article This article shares statistics related to email solicitations from a fundraising consulting firm that surveyed donors who had contributed $20 or more to a charity in the past year.

Passing the Hat 2.0
CURRENTS Article "Crowdfunding," which allows startups and charitable projects to obtain small-scale financing through web-based campaigns, holds promise for college and university development offices.

Starting to Click
CURRENTS Article According to a recent report from Blackbaud, online giving increased significantly in 2010, especially in the wake of the Haiti earthquake.

Advance Work: Vision Quest
CURRENTS Article Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., put advice from young alumni into action, creating a very transparent, flexible Web site to support its fundraising campaign.

In Full Bloom
CURRENTS Article The digital age is upon us, with technology reshaping the way institutions interact with students, faculty, alumni, and donors. Find out how this new age is changing the world of communications and marketing, alumni relations, and development.

Click Here to Donate
CURRENTS Article More money than ever before is being raised online. CASE’s 2009 survey of online fundraising for educational institutions garnered 562 responses, revealing that interest in this newest fundraising tool is high even while most institutions are new to the game. Challenges, opportunities, and best practices are addressed.

Weaving the Web into Your Campaign
CURRENTS Article The director of annual giving at Northland College in Wisconsin presents the results of her research on the most effective techniques for fundraising campaign Web sites.

Yes, You Can
CURRENTS Article This article takes a close look at the presidential campaign of Barack Obama, which merged old-fashioned grass-roots politics with new technology, shattered fundraising records, and energized millions of people, and explores the ways in which its lessons can be used by advancement professionals.

Advance Work: Surfing for Change
CURRENTS Article The Internet search engine donates half its revenue to charities and schools designated by its users.

Clicking With Donors
CURRENTS Article Online fundraising is growing exponentially--not only more gifts but larger ones as well. It is not just about the money, however. The Internet makes giving easy, but it is also helping build relationships with donors. This article looks at the state of online fundraising overall and how it is being done at specific institutions. The author talked with experts in online fundraising, and the article offers practical advice on what to do before you launch or expand online giving capabilities at your institution.

Advance Work: Moving Technology
CURRENTS Article Kenyon College e-mailed a stirring Flash presentation called “Remember” to people who hadn’t contributed to the annual fund. The presentation featured images from the college’s history, with the alma mater playing in the background. In the days following the appeal, the college received more than $40,000 in online gifts--as well as an impressive amount of positive feedback.

Mass Produced
CURRENTS Article In the often harried world of institution advancement, e-communications can easily become a victim of project complacency, with e-mail appeals and newsletters turning into just-get-it-out-before-deadline pieces of communications collateral. But with rapidly improving technology and audiences that are increasingly becoming moving targets, it is essential for campus communicators to discover new ways to use e-mail, the Web and dynamic content to appeal to our constituents, and to embrace the notion that integrating technology is an investment, not an expense. Using examples from the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, this article addresses ways to ensure e-mail appeals stay fresh and effective and discusses reassessing content and ideas prior to hitting the send button.

Advance Work: Web Leverage
CURRENTS Article Nonprofit Web sites influence donors' decision whether to make a gift, according to a 2005 survey. Of the donors surveyed who visited a nonprofit's Web site before making a gift, the majority said that doing so had some or a significant impact on their decision to give.

AdvanceWork: Spamalot?
CURRENTS Article Communicating with constituents via e-mail has gotten harder now that so many e-mail users have installed spam-filtering programs on their computers. Experts cite several strategies advancement officers can use to strengthen the legitimacy of their electronic messages.

Winners at Heart
CURRENTS Article Profiles of 12 winners of CASE’s 2004 Circle of Excellence awards. The winning alumni relations programs offered creative ways to generate revenue, use technology, or support a campus cause. In the development categories, campuses showed how to use flash e-mail annual giving solicitations and speech-writing students to attract donors. Communications winners relied on humor, creativity, and unconventional publications. And top advancement services shops highlighted the importance of identifying top campus prospects, working as a team, and maintaining accurate data.

Politics as Unusual
CURRENTS Article Howard Dean’s quest for the Democratic presidential nomination rewrote the rules of fund raising--and set online giving records in the process. This article examines the lessons education fund raisers can learn from the Dean campaign. Those involved in shaping the Dean strategy recommend that every development office use the Internet strategically, embrace two-way communications, obtain e-mail addresses and keep those address lists up to date, segment and target audiences, leverage supporters as volunteers, and create more urgency by focusing less on long-term and more on short-term campaigns.

Talking Points: Canning Spam
CURRENTS Article With campuses increasingly relying on e-mail to reach constituents, advancement officers should be familiar with the 2003 CAN-SPAM legislation. This article explains the new U.S. law, including why it was passed and what it seeks to do, as well as specifics about how to comply and penalties for not doing so. Although the legislation doesn't apply specifically to nonprofits, the author recommends that all organizations adhere to well-defined best e-mail practices.

AdvanceWork: Think Charity, Not China
CURRENTS Article The Web site allows users to create a registry of nonprofits they support. Their friends and family can go on the site to make online gifts to the selected nonprofits in the same way they might use a bridal or baby registry. Institutions might promote the site as a way for alumni to encourage gifts in their honor to alma mater.

From Soup to Nuts
CURRENTS Article The advancement office of the University of California, Irvine, faced a daunting task: Develop an online giving site in less than two months. This article chronicles the evolution of UCI eGiving from an administrator mandate to a viable mechanism that collected more than $25,000 in online gifts in December 2003. Behzad Zamanian, eGiving's systems architect and project manager, details the steps his team took to complete the project on schedule, the changes they made to enhance the site's usefulness, and the lessons he and his colleagues learned in the process.

A Tale of Two Strategies
CURRENTS Article Increasingly campuses want to give donors the option of online giving. This article outlines the needs assessments that advancement officers should conduct before they decide whether to outsource site development or manage it in house. Oakland University used a vendor to build and operate its online giving site, while the University of Missouri, Columbia, did it in house. Leaders from both campuses share their experiences, identifying the advantages and disadvantages of each approach.

AdvanceWork: Attention, Sports Fans
CURRENTS Article eBay's "Stay True to Your School" campaign allows college sports enthusiasts to bid on memorabilia and unique football-related experiences. A related contest will award a scholarship to a campus whose items generate the greatest sales.

AdvanceWork: Net Income
CURRENTS Article Donors continue to remain wary of online giving, but they indicate that security guarantees, better technology, and increased education and awareness might lessen their concerns. A UCLA study reports slight declines in both online privacy and credit card security concerns in 2002. Still, don't expect online giving to trump more personal fund-raising efforts any time soon.

Plotting Online Gift Strategies
CURRENTS Article Online gifts amount to less than 1 percent of total fund raising at most institutions. Many development officers say they are hesitant to jump to conclusions regarding their current returns or invest any further in the venture until more data is available. Overall strategies are in a holding pattern. This article answers the salient question, "Now what?"

On the Horizon
CURRENTS Article While many fund raisers hesitate to use e-mail for solicitation, some institutions have launched successful e-mail direct marketing campaigns. The article describes various institutions’ uses of e-mail for fund raising and statistics on its success. Advantages of the method include low cost, broad reach, and an increase in contact with donors. Concerns include depersonalization, increased workload, e-mail’s role in overall communications strategy, and lack of staff training in online strategies.

AdvanceWork: Breaking the Online Solicitation Barrier
CURRENTS Article Some donors have proven themselves amenable to major gift solicitation by e-mail. Both Northwestern University and MIT tell of cultivating, soliciting, and receiving five-, six-, and seven-figure gifts without face-to-face meetings with the donors — sometimes at the donor's initiative.

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