The next generation of planned giving donors

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Chris Hughes

Director of Fundraising Strategy at Ruffalo Noel Levitz
Chris Hughes is a former Director of Annual Giving who has more than two decades of experience in fundraising, marketing, public relations and organizational success in higher education and nonprofit fundraising.
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Too often in fundraising, planned giving gets associated solely with targeting retirees or donors who are in their twilight years. In today’s environment, however, planned giving has a much broader potential audience.

planned giving white paper

Download this new white paper on how to engage planned giving donors in their 30’s and 40’s.

Society is now going through what is commonly referred to as “the great wealth transfer.” This is an unprecedented opportunity for your planned giving program to capture donor passion and transform your organization.

Which segment of your donor and prospect database is the best target for planned giving discussions? It may surprise a lot of fundraisers and nonprofit organizations to learn that research indicates the answer to that question is Generation X.

Our new Ruffalo Noel Levitz fundraising white paper, The Next Generation of Planned Giving, addresses Continue Reading »

5 ways to leverage college reunion weekends for alumni giving

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Chris Hughes

Director of Fundraising Strategy at Ruffalo Noel Levitz
Chris Hughes is a former Director of Annual Giving who has more than two decades of experience in fundraising, marketing, public relations and organizational success in higher education and nonprofit fundraising.
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fivewaysthumbOctober is a common month for educational institutions of all sizes and types to hold reunion and homecoming weekends. In fact, this October I attended my own 20th year class reunion weekend at Northwestern University.

Most institutions have reunion giving programs, some more formalized than others.  A lot of the activity takes place prior to the reunion weekend (often in order to make a big-splash announcement with a ceremonial check). But what are you doing afterwards to secure more gifts from alumni who attended the various reunion weekend activities?

Here are five things you can do to leverage reunion weekend attendance into more annual gifts:

  1. Upload and utilize attendance and registration information
  2. Segment attendees into short-term CYE pools
  3. At least one significant cultivation activity in November
  4. Send follow-up thank you notes from specific sessions
  5. Surveys

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Five Ways To Improve Your Case For Giving

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Chris Hughes

Director of Fundraising Strategy at Ruffalo Noel Levitz
Chris Hughes is a former Director of Annual Giving who has more than two decades of experience in fundraising, marketing, public relations and organizational success in higher education and nonprofit fundraising.
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5waysHughesAFP defines the case for giving as “the reasons why an organization both needs and merits philanthropic support.”  It is the core of every nonprofit organization, yet how much time have you spent lately thinking about improving and evolving your organization’s case to meet the interests of today’s donors?

Putting quality thought into evaluating your current case could position your organization for improved retention, acquisition and reacquisition in the coming months and year.  Here are five things you can do to enhance your case for giving:

  1. Focus on what makes your cause unique
  2. Build and brag upon your library of successes
  3. Don’t incorporate a one size fits all approach
  4. Create separation in the marketplace
  5. Ask your donors’ and prospects’ opinions

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Five Ways To Cultivate Your Newest Alumni

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Chris Hughes

Director of Fundraising Strategy at Ruffalo Noel Levitz
Chris Hughes is a former Director of Annual Giving who has more than two decades of experience in fundraising, marketing, public relations and organizational success in higher education and nonprofit fundraising.
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5waysHughesJuly brings forth many things, but in the world of higher education annual giving, it often means a new crop of recent alumni have been added to the database.  Some of these individuals may have given during their spring graduating class gift campaign, but this will mark the first year they have been asked to give as alumni.

Don’t begin your new alumni relationship by immediately asking for money.  Instead, utilize this summer and fall as the perfect time to establish a strong emotional tie for alumni giving.  Here are five things you can do in order to specifically cultivate these new alumni:

  1. Establish annual giving as a brand
  2. Social media signups
  3. Create exclusive, online events
  4. Showcase recent impacts of grassroots giving
  5. Confirm contact information

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5 Ways to Maximize Your Year End Budget

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Chris Hughes

Director of Fundraising Strategy at Ruffalo Noel Levitz
Chris Hughes is a former Director of Annual Giving who has more than two decades of experience in fundraising, marketing, public relations and organizational success in higher education and nonprofit fundraising.
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5waysHughes

Every person who has ever managed a budget at one time or another has found themselves with leftover funds at the end of a fiscal year. For annual giving offices, the question becomes how to use those leftover funds to achieve success not just this fiscal year, but the upcoming fiscal year and beyond.

Here are five things you can do in order to maximize your annual giving program’s end of budget year leftovers:

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Five Ways That Social Media Can Enhance Annual Giving

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Chris Hughes

Director of Fundraising Strategy at Ruffalo Noel Levitz
Chris Hughes is a former Director of Annual Giving who has more than two decades of experience in fundraising, marketing, public relations and organizational success in higher education and nonprofit fundraising.
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social media icons shutterstockHow to best utilize social media in order to impact your fundraising program is an important discussion for every organization. In today’s society, incorporating social media into your multichannel mix is a must in order to engage your donors year-round.

With a growing number of options for the social media channel, here are five things you can do in order to maximize the effectiveness of social media for your annual giving program:

  1. Continue Reading »

Making A New Year’s Fundraising Fitness Resolution

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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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My gym is full this week. Many of us have New Year’s resolutions to get in shape, and the gym should be packed for the next few months. The new year is also a great time to evaluate the fitness of your fundraising program. Do you have a resolution to get your program in better shape? Here are some ideas to get started…

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Giving Tuesday Versus Cyber Monday: Phonathon Impact

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Josh Robertson

Vice President of Product Strategy at Ruffalo Noel Levitz
Josh has over 17 years of experience in the industry, oversees fundraising strategy, analytics and product development and has worked with over 100+ institutions.
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I always struggle with the effectiveness of Giving Tuesday from a pragmatic point of view, wondering if we are simply receiving a smaller gift today versus a larger gift tomorrow. Are we really inspiring our donors to renew their support and to do so at a higher level?  I also wonder how Cyber Monday is influencing our results, causing me to speculate that after a day of spending money online, donors may be less likely to “share the wealth” with their alma mater.

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Giving Tuesday is Done. Welcome to Stewardship Wednesday!

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Chris Hughes

Director of Fundraising Strategy at Ruffalo Noel Levitz
Chris Hughes is a former Director of Annual Giving who has more than two decades of experience in fundraising, marketing, public relations and organizational success in higher education and nonprofit fundraising.
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Giving Tuesday has come and gone, and many nonprofit organizations enjoyed a significant influx of gifts and donors during that 24 hour span.  Across the U.S., it is realistic to expect more than 300,000 charitable gifts worth approximately $54 million to be made solely on Giving Tuesday 2014.

Now, to the next step in the donor cycle:  what are you planning to steward and cultivate your share of those donors to retain them next year and beyond?

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Optimize Your Results With Channel Optimization

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Chris Hughes

Director of Fundraising Strategy at Ruffalo Noel Levitz
Chris Hughes is a former Director of Annual Giving who has more than two decades of experience in fundraising, marketing, public relations and organizational success in higher education and nonprofit fundraising.
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multichannel_tree_tnThere is no doubt we are living in a multichannel fundraising world, but using more channels does not necessarily mean you’re effectively communicating with donors.  Instead of continually adding channels, consider using channel optimization to increase efficiency instead of quantity and to enhance holistic results for your annual giving program.

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Lessons from the DMA Nonprofit Breakthrough Fundraising Conference

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Josh Robertson

Vice President of Product Strategy at Ruffalo Noel Levitz
Josh has over 17 years of experience in the industry, oversees fundraising strategy, analytics and product development and has worked with over 100+ institutions.
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DMA_breakthrough_fundraisingLast week, I had the pleasure of attending the DMA Nonprofit Breakthrough Fundraising Conference.  I wanted to better understand the key issues that nonprofits outside of higher education are facing and what they are doing to tackle those issues.  I thought everyone might like to hear about a few of the consistent themes from the conference.

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Best Practices: Looking Outside the Nonprofit Window

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Josh Robertson

Vice President of Product Strategy at Ruffalo Noel Levitz
Josh has over 17 years of experience in the industry, oversees fundraising strategy, analytics and product development and has worked with over 100+ institutions.
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Where do you look for “best practices?” All too frequently in annual giving, we worry about what other institutions are doing. While I’m a huge believer that a lot of great tactics can be “borrowed” from one institution and implemented with slight tweaks at another, using this approach consistently fails to take into account that everyone’s donors and constituents are unique and what works at one institution may fail considerably at another. Continue Reading »

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