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.

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.

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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.

What 1,000 crowdfunding projects tell us about the future of higher education social 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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We’re about to release the RNL Crowdfunding Index, a study of over 1,000 campaigns on the ScaleFunder platform. We will be sharing some of the most innovative and popular projects, as well as statistics on campaign sizes, duration and success rate. We’ll also share the average mix of campaigns from student, alumni and faculty projects and how institutions engaged volunteer ambassadors for success.
Your can be the first to hear this new research, including:
  • Successful strategies for faculty, student, and institutional campaigns
  • Insights into average campaign success and fundraising totals
  • Key tactics of the most popular crowdfunding campaigns
  • How one institution raised over $1 million on the ScaleFunder platform

Join us for this free webinar on August 15. All attendees will receive advance access to the 2017 RNL Crowdfunding Index.

A new way to find major and planned giving donors (VIDEO)

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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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Major and planned giving donors are the key to the future of your organization. But gift officers tell us that they don’t have the tools to spend maximum time with the best donors.

We think there’s a better way to find big givers, which is why our new suite of major and planned giving solutions focus on:

  • Going beyond wealth screening with a customized, predictive model using up to 30 variables to determine which donors in your pool are ready to give.
  • Warming up donors with communications that thank them and lay out the giving needs of your institution or organization.
  • A personalized conversation with a trained giving professional before your gift officer visits to discover the donor’s passion and readiness for your visit.
  • Immediate scheduling: you get appointments with these identified, ready and excited donors.

It’s a new way to identify major and planned giving donors, and it could more than double your results.

This 3-minute video lays out the donor identification and engagement challenge and the new RNL strategy to maximize your gift officer success:

Connect with more major and planned giving donors

Contact us today to talk about how this game-changing solution can take your engagement of major and  planned giving donors to the next level. One of our major and planned giving experts can discuss how you can identify donors who are ready to give now and streamline your major and planned giving process. Continue Reading »

Friday update: Annual giving advice

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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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The Friday Fundraising Update collects fundraising industry insights and success stories and delivers them to you each Friday from Ruffalo Noel Levitz.

This week, some great articles about engaging and keeping annual givers.

From around the web:

Spotlight: Annual Giving Leaders SpeakRead our latest report on how fundraising leaders want to connect with annual givers

Have you read the second report in our Advancement Leaders Speak series? We combine insights from chief advancement officers and hundreds of annual giving professionals to talk about the key priorities and challenges that leaders are facing today. Read how they want to connect with more annual givers and boost their results. Download your copy today.

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Key insights from our major and planned giving 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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We’ve just released the results of one the largest surveys ever of major and planned gift officers. We asked these fundraisers—who are responsible for working with the biggest donors to higher education and other charities—about their challenges and opportunities. The results paint a difficult scenario for top fundraisers:

  • 92% of gift officers want to spend their time differently.
  • 55% want to spend more time on solicitation—meeting directly with donors.
  • The average gift officer has 142 identified prospects assigned, but only makes 74 visits a year.
  • Less than a third say that they find wealth and propensity ratings “highly effective” in helping them determine which donors to approach.
  • On average, gift officers only feel that 37% of their assigned prospects are truly qualified to make a gift.

This is a time when big gifts are needed to make up budget shortfalls and economic challenges, especially in education. Major and planned gift officers don’t seem to have the tools they need to connect to the best donors. And it’s made worse by the fact that gift officers are more likely to be judged by activity (number of visits) rather than effectiveness.
Survey of major gift and planned gift officers

Helping fundraisers be more productive is more than just a way to increase giving. It also serves donors and increases their satisfaction with giving. Productive fundraisers also use a donor’s time wisely, as well as the resources of the organization—which have come from contributions.

How do we increase productivity for major and planned gift officers?

Two key shifts will help. First, prospect research needs to move from passive to active. Right now, fundraisers generally send a ton of communications to potential givers, but don’t necessarily listen as closely as they should to those donors. This requires truly interactive tactics like surveying donors and having good conversations before a meeting.

We can also now watch how donors respond digitally—if they open, if they read, and where they click—so we are connecting them to the opportunities they really care about. This means that when you meet with a donor, you’ll connect them to their giving passion more quickly.

The second big leap is moving from descriptive to predictive in using donor data. Wealth ratings certainly help describe the potential donors in your pool with the highest capacity. But they do little to predict who is ready to give now. That takes advanced multi-variable predictive modelling, and most organizations need help with that.

Respondents to the survey told us that they see significant opportunity to work with transformational donors. But time and resource pressure are the primary barrier to success. It’s time for some game-changing solutions.

Download the full study today, which includes quotes from major and planned gift officers along with our take on the results.

And if you’d like to take your major and planned donor identification program to the next level in a cost-effective and donor-centric way, drop me a line.

Friday update: Got Millennials?

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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.
Follow Me

The Friday Fundraising Update collects fundraising industry insights and success stories and delivers them to you each Friday from Ruffalo Noel Levitz.

This week, some great articles about using fundraising data to engage Millennial donors and raise more money.

From around the web:

Spotlight: Join us in Denver and get Millennial

Fundraising data: The Digital Philanthropy and Millennial Engagement Conference will feature sessions on online giving and Millennial donors.

It’s your last chance to register for our Digital Philanthropy and Millennial Engagement conference in Denver. We’ll be showcasing great strategies for engaging Millennial donors as well as your whole donor population.

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Major and planned gift officers talk about productivity

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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.
Follow Me

We recently released one of the largest surveys ever of major and planned gift officers. We heard answers from 270 professionals (with an average experience of 13 years each in fundraising) about their productivity and contact with top donors who make the biggest gifts. These professionals work with the generous donors who are funding key programs, establishing scholarship endowments, and naming buildings.

What we heard is that time pressure is a major roadblock for major and planned gift officers and on average, only about half of identified prospects receive a visit each year.  The reasons for this have a lot to do with the need for better tools and processes to focus on the right donors. Here are some of the stats:

Survey of major and planned gift officers

Click to enlarge

Download the full survey report today to read the full results and quotes from major and planned gift officers about productivity.

You can also hear about the results in our latest episode of Fundraising Voices.

If you would like to increase your gift officer team’s productivity, contact us today. We’ll show you a way to focus on the right donors, and to serve up appointments with your top prospects, warmed up and fully researched, to use your time and your donors’ time better.

Friday Update: Fundraising data

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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.
Follow Me

The Friday Fundraising Update collects fundraising industry insights and success stories and delivers them to you each Friday from Ruffalo Noel Levitz.

This week, some great articles about using fundraising data to engage donors and raise more money.

From around the web:

Spotlight: Have the fundraising data you need to engage the next generation?

Fundraising data: The Digital Philanthropy and Millennial Engagement Conference will feature sessions on online giving and young donor acquisition

If you’ve been to a RNL fundraising conference before, you know we feature a lot of fundraising data. From the in-depth results of institutions that have been successful in engaging young donors to the latest digital engagement benchmarks, we’ll have it all at our upcoming Digital Philanthropy and Millennial Engagement conference in Denver. Register today!

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Friday Update: Major and planned gift insights

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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.
Follow Me

The Friday Fundraising Update collects fundraising industry insights and success stories and delivers them to you each Friday from Ruffalo Noel Levitz.

This week, some great articles with major and planned gift insights about your work with big donors, plus a new RNL study about major and planned gift productivity.

From around the web:

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Spotlight: New survey on major and planned giving productivity

Speaking of major and planned gift insights, we’ve just completed one of the largest studies ever of major and planned giving officers to uncover key barriers to productivity. Fundraisers told us that their prospect pools are large and gift officer time is limited, wealth ratings are only moderately helpful, and key performance metrics aren’t well aligned with total productivity.

Download the research report today to see the full survey results and implications for your major and planned gift program.

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Friday Update: Emerging fundraising trends

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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.
Follow Me

The Friday Fundraising Update collects fundraising industry insights and success stories and delivers them to you each Friday from Ruffalo Noel Levitz.

This week, some great articles on emerging fundraising trends such as using digital fundraising tactics and hacking your organization for growth.

From around the web:

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Spotlight: Explore emerging fundraising trends at our conference

The Digital Philanthropy and Millennial Engagement Conference will feature sessions on the latest digital fundraising tactics

We’re gearing up for another great Digital Philanthropy and Millennial Engagement Conference to help you amplify your digital engagement and young alumni outreach efforts. Join us in Denver to bring your fundraising program to the next level. Register today and learn new ways to engage your donor base.

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