Publications & Products
July 2017
Volume 15 Issue 7

Research and News of Note

CASE Highlights Successes at Annual Membership Meeting

Campaigns & Stewardship: 4 Survival Tips

Checklist: Student Orientation on Social

CASE Internship Program Highlights Importance of Diversity

MGOs See More Pressure and Less Time According to Report

Creating a Community Without a Campus

Development Across Borders: Why International Alumni and Fundraising Matter

Engaging Alumni with Their Own Stories

 

CASE Highlights Successes at Annual Membership Meeting

CASE ended its fiscal year in a strong financial position with 3,664 institutional members worldwide. The number of individual members at institutions grew by 3.8 percent from 85,269 to 88,602. At the annual membership meeting held Monday in San Francisco, California, in conjunction with the Summit for Leaders in Advancement, President and CEO Sue Cunningham reported on the progress of CASE's strategic plan one year after its launch on July 1, 2016. She noted several strong measures of success, including:

Download the minutes from the membership meeting to read more.

 

Campaigns & Stewardship: 4 Survival Tips

The first rule of managing a campaign stewardship plan? Forget the campaign stewardship plan, say two CASE speakers.

Donor relations professionals should know that as a campaign launches, you "will be asked for your campaign stewardship plan," warned Maureen Donnelly, senior director of development and donor relations at Massachusetts General Hospital. "Relax. It's what you're already doing."

Campaign stewardship, explained Donnelly at CASE's Annual Conference for Donor Relations Professionals, is about preparedness: understanding how campaign priorities impact donor relations. At the conference, co-chair Donnelly and speaker Paige Eubanks-Barrow, former associate vice president of donor relations at the LSU Foundation, explored 10 tactics for managing the campaign experience. Here are a few of their survival strategies.

Understand the campaign cycle. Campaigns follow the same trajectory: first, there's a planning phase, followed by the quiet preparation phase and a kickoff event. The public phase begins, culminating with a goal event and concluding with the wrap-up phase.

Eubanks-Barrow and Donnelly suggested donor relations professionals consider these three questions about an individual campaign's cycle:

  • What experiences characterize each phase?
  • What happens to people (donors, volunteers, campus stakeholders) during each phase?
  • What are donor relations professionals and donors likely to experience during each phase?

Plan for the end at the beginning. At the onset of a three- or five-year campaign, the end can seem distant. But from the very start, know how it will close, stressed Eubanks-Barrow.

"Always be thinking about your theme," she said. "If you're going to be looking for talent [alumni speakers, for instance], be the person thinking about that in advance."

Along with planning for the end at the beginning, remember to craft a vision for your post-campaign engagement, she added.

Capitalize on opportunities. Campaign cycles, Eubanks-Barrow pointed out, are tied to career trajectories. Fundraisers may move on to new positions when a campaign wraps up, but donor relations professionals can "be the bridge" to keep supporters in mind during these transitions.

"Keep those volunteers engaged," she said. "This is an opportunity to say, ‘I get that everyone is leaving for their new job, but who's paying attention to the donors?'"

Transitions during or after a campaign can give professionals an opportunity to carve out a new role or try new skills, she pointed out.

Stay true to your culture and follow the brand. Along with thinking through the campaign cycle, consider how your culture may dovetail with the campaign, advised Donnelly and Eubanks-Barrow. How can you harness culture to maximize the impact of your messages? What's unique about it?

When you're in campaign mode, it is especially important to follow the brand strategy (including messaging, design and themes), advised Donnelly. Campaigns are, she acknowledged, a "made-up structure," but they often dictate advancement's ebb and flow. Adere to the brand to keep momentum going.

 

Checklist: Student Orientation on Social

Though most U.S. college and university campuses are quieter in the summer, there's still a wealth of content heating up their social media feeds. During a recent #casesmc Twitter chat, participants swapped inspiration for summertime posts, including highlighting student internships, unsung campus scenery, summer camps and farmers' markets.

One key aspect of summer social media coverage is orientation. Here are a few tactics to boost orientation coverage from chat participants and moderator A J Lopez, social media coordinator at Midwestern State University in Texas.

Put orientation leaders front and center.

Midwestern State, Lopez tweeted, shares pictures of orientation leaders and groups. Clad in their matching polos, orientation leaders also take over the institution's Snapchat account, showcasing presentations and campus sights.

Here's another orientation takeover example from Northern Michigan University.

Highlight the fun on Instagram and Snapchat.

To welcome students to campus, institutions spread school spirit on social channels by sharing orientation photos, hosting student social media takeovers and offering Snapchat geofilters on campus. This year, the University of Vermont tested Snapchat Spectacles at orientation, tweeted writer and digital content strategist Andrea Estey.

The spectacles helped break the ice with incoming students, she reported.

Meanwhile, other institutions like Grand Valley State University in Michigan created institution-specific GIFs.

Leverage social media to answer questions.

Beyond highlighting orientation fun, institutions can leverage social media to offer incoming students key information before they arrive on campus. Some universities create room or residence hall tours on YouTube or Snapchat. (Lopez tweeted that last year, Midwestern's Snapchat room tour garnered 20K views that day.)

Other institutions use social media to field questions from students. Midwestern State conducted a Facebook Live question and answer session on June 21. Parents and students left comments that were answered in real time by orientation leaders.

Read the full recap of the chat here.

 

CASE Internship Program Highlights Importance of Diversity

Aspiring advancement professionals will benefit from recognizing the importance of diversity and inclusion in their profession, according to two CASE leaders.

During the June 25, 2017, opening session of the CASE Advancement Internship Conference, 92 interns gathered at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., to listen to CASE Vice President for Education Rob Henry and Director of Diversity and Talent Management Anita Walton share their experiences as advancement leaders.

Henry focused on defining and exploring what diversity means in higher education while Walton explained how diversity impacts advancement shops and institutions—and why diversity is an important focus of the CASE Advancement Internship Program.

"When you think about economic impact of diverse individuals, their buying power is significant," said Walton. "But this hasn't translated into advancement. How do we keep these individuals engaged?"

The number of students of color in U.S. higher education is between 40 and 50 percent, and populations of diverse people will continue to grow and permeate higher education. Even still, the diversification of advancement professionals has been slow, Walton says.

"We know that campuses with diverse workforces out perform those without," Walton says. "That's why it's our goal to grow the number of diverse advancement professionals."

Hear what one CASE intern has to say about the program:

 

MGOs See More Pressure and Less Time According to Report

Major gift and planned giving officers feel pressure from and frustration with the time they have available for solicitation, according to a recent survey.

In Advancement Leaders Speak 2017, more than half of 270 major gift and planned giving officers surveyed responded that they don't have enough time to successfully solicit the prospects in their portfolio. Major and planned gifts accounted for the vast majority of higher education fundraising in 2016.

The Ruffalo Noel Levitz survey reports many challenges for gift officers. Respondents  did not frequently report using metrics aimed at tracking productivity, and they also expressed only moderate confidence with the wealth and propensity ratings used. Respondents also showed concern with the effectiveness of major and planned giving marketing tactics.

Other key findings include:

  • Fifty-five percent of gift officers said they don't spend enough time on solicitation.
  • On average, the gift officers surveyed made personal visits to only 52 percent of their assigned prospects each year.
  • The majority of prospects are reached through direct mail, email and special event invites.
  • Only 27 percent of respondents reported that wealth ratings were quite effective or very effective for focusing on the right prospects.

 

Creating a Community Without a Campus

Even though virtual students don't live on their schools' campuses, their online experience shouldn't deprive them of a sense of community, says one alumni strategist. At Penn State University, thanks to committed local alumni, it doesn't.

In 2015, alumni strategist Roxanne Shiels teamed up with the Penn State San Diego alumni chapter and created an "adoption" program to engage hundreds of virtual students in the chapter's areas. Through the program, the chapter gives students free membership, invitations to events, scholarship opportunities, encouraging notes during finals week, and, perhaps most important, a sense that they are part of the Penn State family.

"What's missing for online students is a sense of community," Shiels says. "Alumni can make that affinity more real. They are true assets given that they are all over the country and are the boots on the ground to be able to create those relationships."

To start an adopt-a-student program, Shiels says it's important to know your online students, identify which alumni groups have the most potential, brainstorm how you can re-envision the campus experience and regularly evaluate what is and isn't working.

Read more about how Penn State engaged its distance learners and how your institution can do the same in "A Campus Away from Campus," in the July/August issue of Currents.

 

Development Across Borders: Why International Alumni and Fundraising Matter

Universities have long played an important role in supporting multiculturalism. Development professionals should continue to participate in this legacy by expanding their focus abroad, says one development expert.

Investing effort in international engagement and philanthropy provides opportunities for new prospects, significant donations and cross-institutional benefits, according to Rachel Calderón, head of major gifts (international) at King's College London. Furthermore, it's essential for universities to support global interconnectedness, according to Calderón.

"I believe there is a responsibility among us, in our roles, to work on behalf of our institutions to continue to demonstrate an outward-facing, multicultural approach to alumni engagement and philanthropy," writes Calderón in a recent blog post.

Calderón, along with Joanna Wells, head of individual giving at the British Library, will provide tips on international fundraising during their session, "International Fundraising: Keep Calm and Travel the World," at the CASE Europe Annual Conference in Birmingham at the end of August.

 

Engaging Alumni with Their Own Stories

An institution's decision to feature monthly online profiles of its graduates has led to greater alumni engagement and social media activity.

The Chinese University of Hong Kong, a university founded in 1963 and whose alumni population is approaching 200,000, features monthly profiles of its alumni on the university website.

The Roll Call Alum project has featured 25 CUHK graduates since it launched in September 2015. At the beginning of every academic year, Daniel Cheng, director of alumni affairs of CUHK, reviews a list of 12 potential interviewees for the coming year.

"Many of our alumni are making seminal contributions in various sectors. They make good things happen not just for themselves but for society," said Cheng.

Following CUHK's theme of "Making Things Happen," the profiles spotlight innovators; 44 percent of the interviewees have been entrepreneurs in fields from design to digital marketing to architecture to alternative energy. Nearly one-fourth of the profiled alumni have started charitable ventures benefiting the public good.

These profiles reach tens of thousands of readers each month and generate substantial social media engagement, said Cheng, adding that many interviewees share their own stories with enthusiasm.

"The success of the articles has demonstrated that...well-written stories are still very much appreciated and chased," said Tommy Cho, director of information services at CUHK.

Some stories are as much about the personal struggles and triumphs of alumni as about cutting-edge industry ideas in which they work, Cho added.