The internal planning that goes into segmenting and engaging prospective donors can be even more challenging than finding them. There are numerous methods to segment profiles but the key to managing donor engagement is to strategically organize alumni portfolios.
At higher education institutions, alumni portfolios should aim to do more than track potential major donors. Recently, we came across an alumni portfolio that serves as a great example.
The Example Alumni Portfolio:
In this particular use case, the institution segmented their alumni into 4 portfolios based on the location, capacity, and graduation year of each donor:
- Portfolio 1: International prospects for the most senior gift officers.
- Portfolio 2: National alumni two years from their 25th and 50th reunion and potential major donors who attended their 25th and 50th reunions the previous year. Additionally, it includes potential donors for under $25k chosen according to development officer travel plans as well as previous donor engagement and donations.
- Portfolios 3 & 4: National alumni approaching their 1st or 10th-year reunions, as well as those who attended their 10-year reunion the year prior. These portfolios also contain a number of the ‘under 25k’ potential donors.
The Value of Targeted Portfolios
These four portfolios have taken a lot of little factors into consideration to come up with a brilliant engagement plan. Here are some of the key points from this case study to consider in your institution:
- Think Globally. We live in a very mobile world – between international students and expat alumni, it is very likely that you have a wealth of major donors abroad to engage with.
- Track individuals who are involved with your school. Keep a close eye on potential major donors who attend their reunions, sporting events and other alumni activities -these individuals probably have more affinity and are more likely to donate.
- Engage alumni prior to notable reunion events. To increase attendance and donations, strategically map out specific alumni and begin engaging with them years before their big reunions.
- Make the most of your travel plans. If you already have travel plans to a specific city, it’s smart to have an additional list of prospects to meet in your spare time.
There is a lot to consider when putting together alumni portfolios. Here are some additional recommendations:
- Start with an up-to-date database – no matter what your goals are, you will need some basic information on your donors to create portfolios – name, location, employment, etc. Maintaining an accurate database is an important foundation. Additionally, having the tools to help you search and segment this data with ease will allow you to focus all your energy on strategy.
- Moderate portfolio size – don’t drown your gift officers with profiles. Fundraising is all about the relationships these officers make, the more time they spend cultivating them, the better results they will have. The best strategy is to err on the side of caution with fewer alumni per portfolio.
- Balance new donor acquisition with existing donors – generally speaking, the existing donors do not count towards the portfolio size limit. However, it is still important not to overdo it. As rule of thumb, the existing donors should never surpass the number of potential donors per portfolio.
Segmenting your alumni data into strategic portfolios can help your team accomplish more than just successful donor outreach. If alumni portfolios are well organized, various higher education teams can benefit. Event planning, alumni engagement, travel plans, and major donations can work in a mutually beneficial way to achieve goals.
Sources & Additional Reading
 The Key to Maximizing Nonprofit Gift Officer Portfolios, Pursuant.com
 PRSPCT-L, Aprahome.org
 Track & Engage Expat Alumni, Livealumni.com
 How to Build Donor Profiles, Donorcommunity.com
 Managing a Major Gifts Portfolio: It’s About People, Not Process!, Missionadvancement.com