Fundraising is an essential part of running a successful college or university. It provides the resources necessary to sustain and bring improvement to educational programs, fund construction projects, and support students and faculty.
In recent years, fundraising has become increasingly complicated, as colleges and universities must contend with declining government aid, rising costs, and a variety of other challenges, including the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. Though the fiscal year 2022 was a strong fundraising year for universities, inflation will continue to bite into charitable giving — making a robust fundraising strategy more important than ever.
So how can colleges and universities continue to glean financial support from individuals and organizations? How can fundraising professionals keep up with a rapidly changing economy and support higher education initiatives?
To make sense of it all, we’ve put together some of the biggest higher education fundraising trends, including a few strategies you can implement to make sure your higher education institution is keeping up with best practices!
Alumni donations help oil the cogs of many higher education institutes and make up some of the largest charitable contributions. Fundraising professionals should make sure they are taking advantage of this trend to engage current and former students in their cause.
Fundraisers should create strategies to re-engage alumni, encouraging them to donate and provide ways for them to stay connected. You can reach out to alumni through email campaigns, newsletters, and social media outreach and host virtual or hybrid events specifically for alumni. You should also consider offering benefits such as discounts on tickets to sporting events and alumni-only access to certain resources.
In addition to fundraising efforts, alumni donations can also come in the form of direct volunteer work. Focus on leveraging this resource, providing information about volunteering opportunities, and creating a supportive environment for those interested in contributing their time and talent to their alma mater.
Another trend in higher education fundraising is the use of matching gift programs, which allow donors to double or even triple their donations. With a matching gift program, donors can have their donation matched by an outside organization, such as a corporation or foundation. Matching gifts are an excellent way to encourage giving at colleges and universities, as they provide donors with additional incentive to give more.
Take advantage of these programs whenever possible and promote them on your website and social media accounts.
Virtual and Hybrid Fundraising Events
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual fundraising events have become more popular than ever. Fundraisers can capitalize on this trend by running online auctions, webinars, and other virtual fundraising events to raise money for their institutions. You should also consider live streaming their events to make them even more engaging, allow more people to attend, and raise widespread awareness of their cause.
Another trend in higher education fundraising is the use of hybrid fundraising events. Combine in-person and virtual events into one cohesive experience, allowing donors to participate regardless of their location or comfort level with attending an event in person. Hybrid fundraising events are also great opportunities for networking, building relationships between your college/university and potential donors.
These hybrid events can include virtual components such as online auctions and live streaming, as well as in-person experiences like outdoor gatherings and on-campus activities. Consider creating fundraising campaigns that combine virtual and physical elements to maximize their impact. Use a fundraising platform like MaxGiving to help create a seamless hybrid event, manage your auction, and accept online donations with ease.
Social Media Fundraising
Social media is also playing a major role in higher education fundraising, as more and more institutions are turning to platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Instagram to raise money for their causes. Social media fundraising is free, so it is a great place to start if you’re fundraising on a budget. You can also use these platforms to drive awareness of your mission and encourage people to donate, as well as providing updates on events.
Fundraisers can also use social media to showcase their fundraising goals and progress, making it easier for potential donors to see how their donations are being put to use. Make sure you are leveraging the power of social media by running campaigns on these platforms, sharing stories, and utilizing hashtags to get your message out.
Bonus tip: Check out these tips for using social media to promote your fundraiser.
Online donations are a major trend in higher education fundraising. With more people using the internet and mobile devices than ever before, it’s no surprise that many colleges and universities have seen an increase in online donations. According to Blackbaud’s 2019 Charitable Giving Report, the number of gifts made via mobile has increased 34% since 2014.
Take advantage of this growing trend by providing an easy-to-use donation form on your website and utilizing online payment platforms such as Google Pay, Apple Pay, and PayPal to make donations even easier.
Recurring donations are another trend on the rise in higher education fundraising. By asking donors to sign up for a subscription-based model, colleges and universities can ensure they have a steady stream of funds coming in each month.
Fundraising leaders should consider offering different levels of giving, such as monthly or quarterly donations. Fundraising professionals have seen that recurring donations can be a major source of support for their organization, as donors are more likely to donate when they can set up automatic payments. MaxGiving’s powerful nonprofit fundraising software makes accepting and tracking recurring donations a breeze!
These are just a few of the higher education fundraising trends to watch as you develop your strategy for the upcoming year. With the right approach, higher education institutions can reach their fundraising goals and ensure the future of their school.
Fundraising professionals should take advantage of tools like MaxGiving and other opportunities to maximize their impact and raise funds for their institutions. Contact us to learn more and get started today.