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Directed Giving Increases Fundraising Success

Fundraising appeals that offer donors the ability to target their gifts to specific areas can raise more money than appeals that don't offer such flexibility, according to new academic research.

Jonathan Meer, associate professor of economics at Texas A&M University, recently published a study about a field experiment he and his team conducted on prior annual fund donors to the institution's alumni association.

Donors from one group were asked simply to renew their support for the institution by making an annual fund gift. By contrast, donors with the other group were given the option of allocating a portion of their annual fund gift to a Texas A&M college of their choice. The response rate was the same for both groups, but the group that had a directed-giving option gave more money than the other group. In total, the alumni association made about $40,000 more by allowing for donor choice than it would have otherwise.

"These results are eye-popping," says Meer, a two-time winner of CASE's H.S. Warwick Research Awards in Alumni Relations for Educational Advancement. "This is certainly a strategy worth trying, although each university will have different results based on its own alumni relations, giving histories and so forth."

For more discussion on related topics, check out the CASE community for fundraising professionals and attend the Institute for Senior Annual Giving Professionals, April 8-10, 2015, in Boston, Massachusetts.

This article is from the February 2015 issue of BriefCASE.