What if college football was decided by alumni giving?

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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 if college football rankings were determined by alumni giving?The first College Football Playoff (CFP) rankings of 2017 were released recently, and we’ve already had some crazy weekends that stirred up the standings. Because we are both sports fans and alumni giving geeks, we are once again using fundraising data to answer a sports question: what if college football was all decided by alumni giving?

We applied the same methodology as our 2017 March (Alumni Giving Madness) tournament, using the first 25 ranked football programs from the initial CFP rankings as the group. The teams were ranked based on these criteria in a weighted simulator:

  • (25%) Overall team strength: the 2016 alumni participation figure reported to the VSE Survey.
  • (20%) Upward momentum: the increase or decline in alumni donor count from 2015 to 2016.
  • (20%) Recruiting strength and past performance: The total increase or decline in alumni donors between 2007 and 2016.
  • (20%) A strong bench of dedicated team members: The total alumni giving in dollars divided by the alumni of record over the last three fiscal years (2014-16).
  • (10%) Getting a touchdown pass (gift) off: Our team of expert referees weighed in on a comparison between the institutions’ online giving presence, including ease of online giving, giving day portal (if any), and crowdfunding. They graded how easy it was for an alumnus to “make a pass”/make a gift.
  • (5%) Pure luck: Our simulator assigns a small portion of each team’s score to a random factor.

When I fed the data into the simulator for these 25 schools, I saw many of the same things we noticed during our March (Alumni Giving Madness) tournament: a few close calls and several institutions moving up because of recent successes. And the subjective components and random number did affect a few institutions’ ranks. Institutions that raise a very high amount of money per living alumnus continue to dominate, especially if they have had recent alumni donor growth.

College Football Playoff rankings (initial 25 teams) as decided by alumni giving

1. University of Southern California

2. Ohio State University

3. University of Notre Dame

4. Stanford University

5. University of Washington

6. Auburn University

7. University of Georgia

8. Clemson University

9. Washington State University

10. Mississippi State University

11. Texas Christian University

12. Louisiana State University

13. University of Memphis

14. University of Miami

15. University of Wisconsin

16. Michigan State University

17. University of Oklahoma

18. University of Alabama

19. Oklahoma State University

20. University of Arizona

21. Penn State University

22. University of Central Florida

23. North Carolina State University

24. Virginia Tech

25. Iowa State University

These 25 institutions all have a lot to be proud of. Alumni combined to give more than $3.7 billion to these institutions from 2014-2016. And not surprisingly, these institutions have alumni giving participation percentages higher than the national average.

A huge portion of philanthropy to colleges and universities comes from alumni. And because about three quarters of big donors give multiple times to the annual giving program before making their first big gift, your alumni giving pipeline could greatly impact your future success. Good coaches know the importance of recruiting.

How can you put together a great alumni giving strategy?

Talk with us about how you can take your alumni giving to the next level. We’ve got a great win record, and we’ll work with you to put together the right strategy.

Thanks to RNL contributor Brandon Trissler for help on this post.

Are thank you calls worth the effort?

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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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thankyou

At a time when being “thankful” is at the forefront of everyone’s mind, my team and I set out to determine the power of a thank you, more specifically a thank you call.

Why make a thank you call when you could be making another ask and potentially receiving another gift? It’s a fair question, but it assumes the trade-off is simple; doing what feels right versus bringing in more donors and dollars.  While I’ve always advocated to organizations I’ve worked with the need to conduct thank you calls, I wanted to better understand the ripple effect thank you calls can have in the following year.

Analysis

We analyzed data from four of our on-campus managed phonathon programs that conducted thank you calls in FY14 and tracked the results for all constituents that received a thank you call versus those that did not.  We specifically looked at those loaded in current donor (aka lybunt) segments the following year.

Scope of Analysis

  • 30,133 Records (4,098 thanked in previous year)
  • 13,933 Completed Calls
  • 3,902 Specified Pledges

Direct Impact on Phonathon Performance

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Podcast: Digital donor engagement, Justin Ware from ScaleFunder

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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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If you have read anything in the past few years about online donor solicitation, giving days and crowdfunding, you’ve no doubt come across Justin Ware. He’s helped propel the success of top organizations with their digital engagement, and he’s a voracious blogger and presenter. Justin has just joined the ScaleFunder team as vice president for digital fundraising strategy, and I got him on the phone to pick his brain about engaging 21st century donors.

wareblogpicpodcast

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Podcast: Student Philanthropy at Appalachian State University

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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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DeveloFundraising-Voices-logo220ping a culture of philanthropy on campus is important. Appalachian State University knows this, and students are passionate about it. I learned this over the summer at the CASE Conference for Student Advancement, where I met Aaron Galliher and Summer Wisdom.

Aaron is a senior and the president of App S.T.A.T., Appalachian Students Today, Alumni Tomorrow.  The name says it all–the mission is to help students embrace a lifetime relationship with the institution, something that we know as fundraisers is absolutely crucial.

Take a listen to this interview with Aaron and Summer. You’ll hear two things. The first is that a student can be incredibly passionate about philanthropy, as well as organized, mission-focused and ready for action. You’ll also hear that the commitment from great advisors like Summer help this energy translate into real success on campus, and that engaging a team on campus really fuels success.appstate_aaron_summer

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Six Ways To Recruit the Best Phonathon Callers

Scott Schwarzkopf

Scott Schwarzkopf

Associate Vice President at Ruffalo Noel Levitz
An experienced giving professional who has also worked in healthcare and insurance, Scott Schwarzkopf joined the Ruffalo Noel Levitz team in July 2014 as Associate Vice President in the Fundraising Management Division, where he assists clients worldwide with phonathon software and with other industry-leading servicesto meet their program improvement goals.
Scott Schwarzkopf

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As I’ve visited campuses over recent weeks and talked with CAMPUSCALL users, the topic which continues to top the list is caller recruitment.  The economy is improving, and whether you are ramping up your program, trying to compete with local businesses, or just trying to replace great senior callers who have graduated, you want the best possible students to apply for positions in your calling program. Here is a list of top strategies we picked up in our conversations with managers this fall:

Get the word out

This is where your posters, fliers, campus newspaper, table tents in the dining hall, website and even sidewalk chalk advertising comes into play. Make friends with everyone from the campus radio station DJs to the presidents of big clubs and organizations. Keep in mind the prizes you give in your call center, and put your logo on them, they will get worn and used out on campus to help spread the word. The buzz you create about the job is a long term investment to keep applications coming every year.

 

shirts1

Get personal

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How to Candy Crush Your 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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PrintIf you’re reading this, odds are you’ve either experienced the joyful addiction of Candy Crush, or have someone close to you who can’t be pulled away from the game. Or maybe you’ve played your own fair share of that little Flappy Bird, or entered the Clash of Clans in the past few years. Mobile games are big business. Candy Crush alone brought in close to $900,000 per day at its peak. These relatively simple games have pushed aside many expensive and more complex games that usually dominate the industry.

Why do mobile games keep people hooked? As this super geeky and great video at Game Theory explains, it’s all about the “hedonic treadmill” – central to the dopamine response cycle of all enthralling and addicting activities. Mobile games that have hit it big play on some of these central human behavior mechanisms. Then, they amplify their engagement by being portable, friction-free to start and socially-enabled.  While annual giving is probably not going to change to daily giving, we can learn a few things about how to engage 21st century donors from the success of these games.

Go Mobile

Apps and games excel because they are easy to access and made for mobile devices. Your fund pages, Continue Reading »

Are Matching Gifts a Waste of Time?

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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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Focusing on matching gifts for your phonathon is a waste of time, unless you are concerned with the following:

matchinggiftsblog

 

I’m going to assume I now have your attention. Read on to learn more about some of the latest strategies and tactics I shared during my webinar today hosted by HEPData on Using Phonathon to Positively Influence Matching Gifts.

Target Audience

The use of segmentation and calling pools in phonathons is nothing new. It gives you the ability to target the right constituents with a relevant message to improve results. However, are you using calling pools to increase the volume of matching gifts and, ultimately, dollars? Continue Reading »

Report from the 2015 CASE Conference for Student Advancement

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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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PrintI had the privilege of attending as faculty at the 2015 CASE Conference for Student Advancement last week in Washington, D.C. For more than 40 years, this summer conference has highlighted the best of what is happening on campus by students in our field.

There was so much incredible enthusiasm on display by all the student, advisor and professional attendees. I had great conversations about the future of philanthropy and advancement, and saw so many exciting things that are happening on campuses across the continent and abroad. Continue Reading »

Lessons Learned from the RuffaloCON15 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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AFC_logo_2015_home

Last week attendees from 100+ organizations joined us from the US, Canada, Australia and even Saudi Arabia to discuss the hottest topics and latest trends in annual giving at RuffaloCON15. For those of you not able to attend, I’d be remiss if I didn’t provide you with a few of the topics that had the conference abuzz.

Annual Giving Is Ripe for Testing and Experimentation

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Friday Update – Show Me The . . . Participation – 7-31-15

The Friday Fundraising Update
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The Friday Fundraising Update

A weekly collection of fundraising industry insights and success stories, delivering them each Friday to your inbox. Have a suggestion for a future edition? Email Brian at Brian.Gawor@RuffaloNL.com
The Friday Fundraising Update
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Friday-Fundraising-UpdateThe Friday Fundraising Update collects fundraising industry insights and success stories and delivers them to you each Friday from Ruffalo Noel Levitz.

Many of us are moving into a new fiscal year and for higher education fundraisers, the alumni donors are being counted. With participation on the decline across higher education in recent years, here is what some experts are saying about how we can reverse the trend.

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