FM Blog

Welcome to our Fundraising Management Blog! Be sure to visit us often for the latest information on fundraising news, trends, and best practices.

How does your digital and young alumni donor engagement compare?

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Brian Gawor

Vice President for Research at Ruffalo Noel Levitz
Brian Gawor, CFRE, is a former annual fund and major gift professional who now focuses on research and benchmarking to drive fundraising strategy. He is also a doctoral student studying higher education giving.
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What’s working today in digital fundraising and Millennial donor engagement?

Download our latest research, Advancement Leaders Speak 2017: Digital Tactics and Young Alumni Engagement Strategies.

This report examines the use of emerging digital tactics by today’s fundraisers, along with how they are engaging Millennials and other young alumni. Key findings include:

  • Few institutions are deploying coordinated and personalized campaigns dedicated to young alumni
  • 81% of higher education fundraisers in the study solicited young alumni within one year of graduation, after an average of only three engagement communications
  • Only 3% of respondents reported personalizing their messaging based on recent online activity from the donor

You can also check out the podcast where Caryn Stein and I go through the report’s key takeaways from the survey:

Participate in our annual giving survey – receive an Amazon gift card

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Brian Gawor

Vice President for Research at Ruffalo Noel Levitz
Brian Gawor, CFRE, is a former annual fund and major gift professional who now focuses on research and benchmarking to drive fundraising strategy. He is also a doctoral student studying higher education giving.
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Annual Giving Multichannel Best Practices Survey

We’d like to hear your opinions about annual giving best practices. Please complete our brief survey, which covers topics including solicitation practices and multichannel donor engagement. The survey should take 15 minutes or less of your time.

Your responses are anonymous and will be compiled in an upcoming report on Annual Giving Best Practices. All participants will receive a complimentary early access copy of the research.

To thank you for your time, the first 50 survey respondents to this blog invitation will receive a $15 Amazon gift card via email.

This survey will help us complete Part 5 of “Advancement Leaders Speak,” the cornerstone of RNL’s fundraising research agenda this year.

Check out our previous research in this series:

Advancement Leaders Speak: In-depth interviews with 40 chief advancement officers

Advancement Leaders Speak: Major and Planned Giving productivity

Advancement Leaders Speak: Annual Giving Priorities

Coming Soon: Advancement Leaders Speak about Digital and Young Alumni Engagement

Client Highlights: University of Montana and University of St. Thomas

2 Phonathon Programs Hit $100,000!

Congratulations to University of Montana and University of St. Thomas! Both schools hit $100,000 this week, just a few weeks into their fiscal year!

University of Montana

The Griz calling staff and their RNL Program Center Manager, Liz Kruse, reached the $100,000 milestone on Sunday night. A target that was reached 11 days earlier than last year. The team celebrated with a party, complete with 100 Grand candy bars!

University of St.Thomas

The Tommie calling staff and their RNL Program Center Manager, Lindsey Donovan, reached $100,000 on Monday night, a target hit a week earlier than last year! One of the Tommie callers, Nick, even received his first “major gift’ of $15,000 which was instrumental in reaching the goal. To celebrate, the team was treated to balloons, banners and homemade cookies!

         

 

Congratulations reaching your $100,000 milestones! Keep up the great work!

Friday update: speak, advancement leaders!

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Brian Gawor

Vice President for Research at Ruffalo Noel Levitz
Brian Gawor, CFRE, is a former annual fund and major gift professional who now focuses on research and benchmarking to drive fundraising strategy. He is also a doctoral student studying higher education giving.
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Here are some great stories about how fundraisers are doing — and thinking about, their jobs.

From around the web:

Spotlight: What Advancement Leaders Really Think

What is the real future of fundraising? How can colleges and universities meet the current challenges and future opportunities to increase participation, retain donors, and raise more money—all while increasing productivity, efficiency, and return on investment?

Join us for this free webinar on Tuesday, October 17 to discover the top goals for today’s advancement leaders and the best strategies for reaching them.

Friday update: Year-end fundraising

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Brian Gawor

Vice President for Research at Ruffalo Noel Levitz
Brian Gawor, CFRE, is a former annual fund and major gift professional who now focuses on research and benchmarking to drive fundraising strategy. He is also a doctoral student studying higher education giving.
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Here are some great stories about how to amplify your year-end fundraising efforts.

From around the web:

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Spotlight: Year end fundraising webinar

Our recent webinar on year-end fundraising was chock full of expert tips and ideas to increase your success. RNL’s Caryn Stein talked about how to create a “surround sound” environment for your donors, how to combat abandonment with targeting, and real examples of how testing and measuring lead to success.

Listen to the recorded webinar today to hear some great tips on how to take your year-end fundraising to the next level. And drop us a line for more information on these successful strategies that RNL partners are using.

Podcast: Crowdfunding Best Practices 2017

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Brian Gawor

Vice President for Research at Ruffalo Noel Levitz
Brian Gawor, CFRE, is a former annual fund and major gift professional who now focuses on research and benchmarking to drive fundraising strategy. He is also a doctoral student studying higher education giving.
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We’ve just released the 2017 RNL Crowdfunding Index, a study of 4,200 campaigns conducted through the RNL Crowdfunding platform (powered by ScaleFunder), raising more than $22.5 million. In the report we cover:

  • Average project totals, and the impact of major gifts, challenges, and early adopters.
  • How fundraisers are naming their campaigns.
  • The impact of ambassadors.
  • Average project lengths from first donation to last, and the impact of “participation” challenges.

I got on the line with Josh Robertson, vice president of project strategy here at RNL, to go through the results and discuss crowdfunding best practices. Check out our conversation on the Fundraising Voices podcast.

Download the Crowdfunding Index today, and if you’re ready to take your peer-to-peer fundraising engagement to the next level, contact us for a demo of what RNL Crowdfunding can do for you.

Find more great podcasts from RNL at FundraisingVoices.com

How should you name your charitable crowdfunding campaign?

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Brian Gawor

Vice President for Research at Ruffalo Noel Levitz
Brian Gawor, CFRE, is a former annual fund and major gift professional who now focuses on research and benchmarking to drive fundraising strategy. He is also a doctoral student studying higher education giving.
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We recently released the 2017 RNL Crowdfunding Index, where we looked at over $22.5M in crowdfunding gifts through the ScaleFunder platform. This powerful new fundraising technology has let higher education fundraisers and other charities harness optimized online giving, peer-to-peer communication, and engaging technologies like videos and live updates to bring new and loyal donors in to support specific projects.

A common question we get as institutions get ready to go “live” is just how to name a campaign. In preparing the Index, I found that in general, the most successful crowdfunding campaigns:

• Name the organization or group being supported in their project title.
• Use active language such as support, help, or send.
• Mention a challenge in their project title.

It is clear that donors are more inspired to give to specific projects. They want to understand why their gifts matter and will be more likely to respond when they feel a personal connection to the cause. These naming strategies also greatly increase the chance that a supporter will come across your crowdfunding campaign in a web search (this is known as search engine optimization, or SEO).

A visual of crowdfunding campaign project titles

We took the titles of 4,200 campaigns and created a “word cloud” of the terms that appeared 20 times or more across all the projects:

Crowdfunding Campaign Word Cloud

Click to see the word cloud at full size

The words that are more commonly used appear larger in the cloud. As you can see, it’s common for fundraisers to use words that describe key areas of support, like students and scholarships. This is a good practice, but looking at the cloud, it seems to me that there’s an opportunity to better use some different words.

In contrast, here’s a word cloud I made of the recent slogans of S&P 500 companies from this great list:

Crowfunding campaign: word clouds from business

Click to see full size

While we would definitely expect charitable fundraising titles to be a bit different from the corporate world, it’s probably worth looking at some of the strategy used to gain consumer attention. I see more action-oriented and “emotion” words.

Download the 2017 RNL Crowdfunding Index today and find out how your fellow fundraisers are having success with this new donor-centric technology. And if you’d like to get started, or improve your crowdfunding campaigns, contact us today to find out how we can help you with your fundraising strategies, including online fundraising like crowdfunding.

What works in charitable crowdfunding? New index released by RNL.

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Brian Gawor

Vice President for Research at Ruffalo Noel Levitz
Brian Gawor, CFRE, is a former annual fund and major gift professional who now focuses on research and benchmarking to drive fundraising strategy. He is also a doctoral student studying higher education giving.
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Benchmarks and best practices for charitable crowdfunding campaigns

RNL recently analyzed 4,200 crowdfunding projects totaling $22.5 million raised through RNL Crowdfunding powered by ScaleFunder. The project averages and best practices presented in this index provide a baseline for planning and program improvement as organizations utilize this powerful, donor-centric technology.

Download the Index today to find out about:

  • Trends in total funds raised, average gift amount, and participation by project type
  • Which factors boost campaign success—from goal-setting to donor engagement

How online ambassadors—volunteers who advocate for your campaign—amplify your resultsA sneak peak at the results

  • Campaigns raised an average of over $14,000
  • Challenges, major gifts and early adopters served to triple campaign totals in some areas
  • Ambassadors—volunteers who shared their support with peers over social media and email—increased campaign totals by over 20%

If you’d like to have this type of success with your supporters, contact us today for a demo of RNL Crowdfunding, powered by the Scalefunder plaftorm

Friday update: digital engagement

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Brian Gawor

Vice President for Research at Ruffalo Noel Levitz
Brian Gawor, CFRE, is a former annual fund and major gift professional who now focuses on research and benchmarking to drive fundraising strategy. He is also a doctoral student studying higher education giving.
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Here are some great stories about reaching your donors online and strengthening digital engagement.

From around the web:

Spotlight: Digital Engagement Webinar

We’re about to release the results of our major survey of fundraising professionals, who told us about their work with young donors and digital technology. Here are few teasers:

  • 80 percent of organizations don’t have a coordinated young donor/young alumni communications plan.
  • Over 2/3 of organizations have utilized time-sensitive giving programs like giving days and crowdfunding in the past year, and these are the top choices for new online donor acquisition.
  • Only 3 percent of organizations personalize based on recent donor digital activity or demonstrated interest.

Register today for our free webinar where we will release the results of this new survey and discuss ways you can take your digital giving program to the next level.

Friday update: Let’s get digital (fundraising)

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Brian Gawor

Vice President for Research at Ruffalo Noel Levitz
Brian Gawor, CFRE, is a former annual fund and major gift professional who now focuses on research and benchmarking to drive fundraising strategy. He is also a doctoral student studying higher education giving.
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Here are some great resources on digital fundraising strategy and engaging your supporters where they spend their time—online.

From around the web:

Spotlight: Digital Engagement Webinar

Soon, Millennials and younger donors will make up over 2/3 of most fundraising databases. We’ve recently completed a survey over over 250 fundraisers to find out about how you are using—or struggling to use—new technologies like crowdfunding, giving days and targeted digital advertising to engage these younger donors. Register today for our free webinar where we will release the results of this new survey and discus ways you can take your digital giving program to the next level.

Fundraising update: alumni engagement + fundraising = win

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Brian Gawor

Vice President for Research at Ruffalo Noel Levitz
Brian Gawor, CFRE, is a former annual fund and major gift professional who now focuses on research and benchmarking to drive fundraising strategy. He is also a doctoral student studying higher education giving.
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Looking for new resources on alumni engagement in advancement? Take a look at what we found around the web on using your valuable alumni network to drive philanthropy.

From around the web:

  Stay Relevant: A guide to modern day alumni relations
Fully Funded: How to bring an alumni chapter to the next level
How To Smother Alumni Engagement In 5 Easy Steps
How to Track Alumni Engagement and Set Goals in Alumni Relations

Spotlight: Purple briefcase provides multi-tier tools for career services that can strengthen alumni engagement

We’re excited to welcome Purple Briefcase to the RNL family. From managing relationships with students and employers, to setting up and tracking events, to recording and reporting student outcomes, Purple Briefcase offers powerful tools. An easy to implement mentoring system allows you to engage alumni and friends to connect directly with students — deepening the connection with your institution.

“Adding Purple Briefcase to the RNL family enables us to provide even more value for our clients and the students and alumni they serve,” said Stephen J. Meyer, Ruffalo Noel Levitz CEO. “RNL is uniquely positioned to serve our campus partners in a more comprehensive way: from recruitment, through graduation, to career development, and continued alumni engagement and giving.”

Read the press release and contact us today to leverage Purple Briefcase to take your career services engagement to the next level.

Recent posts

Major and planned giving: media coverage of our groundbreaking survey

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Brian Gawor

Vice President for Research at Ruffalo Noel Levitz
Brian Gawor, CFRE, is a former annual fund and major gift professional who now focuses on research and benchmarking to drive fundraising strategy. He is also a doctoral student studying higher education giving.
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Last month, we published the third installment of Advancement Leaders Speak,
one of the biggest surveys ever of major and planned giving professionals. Advancement leaders told us how they feel about their productivity in engaging donors. A few quick facts from the report:

  • 92% of gift officers want to spend their time differently, and over half say they are not spending enough time on solicitation.
  • Less than a third say that current wealth and propensity ratings really help them focus on the right donors.
  • On average, only about half of identified prospects get a visit each year.

Here’s some of the great media coverage of the report:

Check out what these experts had to say about our research, and download the full report.

Drop us a line If you would like hear about our game-changing solutions to transform major and planned giving donor identification that serve up appointments with donors ready to give directly with your giving team.

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