You’ll find it’s a lot easier to get college alumni to donate money when you’re using the best university fundraising strategies.

Colleges and universities have long relied on fundraising to help sustain their academic businesses. Much of that money comes from previous students at any given university. However, not all alumni are interested in donating money to institutions that probably already cost them a lot to begin with. That’s why it’s essential to have good university fundraising strategies in place.

But how can university fundraising strategies attract alumni participation? What can you do differently over the phone or via email that can garner someone’s interest and make it worth their while (and expense)?

The short answer is that fundraising calls aren’t all that different from regular sales calls, so implementing some sales strategies as university fundraising strategies can make a lot of difference in the outcome. Here are some ways to approach fundraising that will result in more money and hopefully a more enjoyable process.

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university fundraising strategies

Take advantage of these university fundraising strategies to bring in more alumni donations

1. Build rapport

Any salesperson can tell you that the key to a successful sales call is building trust between the caller and the customer. In the case of university fundraising strategies, the “customer” is the alumnus who’s being asked to donate. When you first contact an alum, you’re likely a stranger, so try to establish some common ground. And what better common ground to establish than talking about one’s alma mater! Find out what they loved about their college experience, tell them what you love or loved about yours, and start building a relationship. This has to happen somewhat quickly as it’s still a sort of sales call, and recipients of such calls usually check out if they’re not impressed in the first 30 seconds. Still, finding the quick and easy common ground allows the conversation to open up and generates empathy, making someone more likely to share their money with a cause.

2. Host alumni events

Making a university fundraising call is easier if the people you’re contacting have stayed connected to the university since their time there. Hosting alumni events is a great way to keep people involved. They might be alumni outings, reunions, special programs or presentations, or simply an “Alumni Day” at a university where they can go back, maybe sit in classes, see what’s changed and what’s stayed the same. These events are an excellent place to ask for donations as well, but if there’s no room for that, the follow-up phone call is no longer as much a “cold call” as it might have been had there been no alumni engagement in the first place.

3. Use a quality auto-dialer

Good university fundraising strategies should take advantage of a quality auto-dialer so the caller can reach more people in less time and keep their notes straight, among other things. But not every auto-dialer is created equal. Often the biggest challenge to overcome is that brief pause between the time the person picks up the phone and the call gets connected to a fundraiser. That pause often clues call recipients into the fact that this is a sales or sales-type call and they put up their defenses. Using an auto-dialer like Call Logic eliminates this pause so you can focus on the call content and not the functionality of the technology.

4. Practice active listening

Another common sales practice is asking the person questions and actively listen to their answers. Sure, they may sound like they’re rushed, but that’s only because they think you’re trying to get cash out of them. Get them talking about themselves and make it a real conversation, and the defenses will often go down at least enough to pitch your proposition at the right time. At the same time, don’t ask questions and then focus on your answers without really listening to what they’re saying. You’re likely to miss something important or run the risk of sounding like you weren’t listening at all, and that will probably have the opposite effect from what you’re looking for.

5. Give updates from current students

Universities often use current students for call campaigns because alumni like to hear from the newest population what life is like at the school. If your university fundraising strategies involve using current students, be sure they’re equipped with useful, interesting information about the current state of the university, the academics, and the benefits of student life on campus. Alumni love to hear about what’s going on at their alma maters, and it’s all the more meaningful when it comes from people who are experiencing the school in the present. These updates should be provided before getting to the money ask.

6. Ongoing email updates

Apart from the actual fundraising call, you can help keep alumni interested in the university’s happenings through regular email communications that tell what’s going on at the school each month. This type of short newsletter can be engaging enough to keep alumni abreast of happenings and make them feel like they’re still part of the community, which you hope they will be. You can set up regular emails through a CRM like Call Logic and send them the same way you might a follow-up email to a sales call. Keeping people in the loop will make them more willing to donate when the time comes.

7. Service with a smile

Body language is important for any sales call or event. Whether you’re in person or over the phone, make sure to smile, sit or stand up straight, and be bright and cheerful in your call. If the caller is timid or lacks confidence in any way, it’s going to show and will likely deter someone from donating unless they feel sorry for you, which isn’t a tactic you want to rely on. It may feel a little foreign at first, but smiling while you speak brightens your voice, makes you sound confident, and attracts other people to you even if you don’t ultimately get the donation. Of course, remember to take smiling breaks in between. We don’t want your mouths to get sore!

Contact us for a free demo of Call Logic to see how we can help with your university fundraising strategies and campaigns! We can’t wait to show you what we have in store for you.