Top Trends In Higher Education Fundraising

We spent the latter half of the last decade engaging with nearly 800 universities around the world and dedicated over 1600 hours to client strategizing in 2019 alone. Based on some of the incredible insights that you shared with us, we’ve honed in on the top trends you’re going to see in 2020 when it comes to higher education fundraising and development. 

Here’s what to watch out for in the year ahead…

  • Current Employment Data
  • Contacting your Alumni via Business Emails
  • Matching Gifts
  • Mentorship Programs 
  • Online Degree Programs
  • Transparency 
  • Virtual Campaigns 

Current Employment Data 

More and more Universities are actively looking to maintain their database with the most up to date employment data. In fact, refreshing data every six months is among the top requests of the year for us! 

It’s not difficult to see why. Staying up to date with your alumni is crucial for engagement and prospecting. As a result, many institutions are using current employment data to track the movement of their alumni from role to role, research career trends, industry trends, outcomes, and changes in location.  

Contact Your Alumni via Business Emails

Business emails come hand in hand with employment data – you cannot have accurate business emails if you do not have current employment. Universities have let us know that they’ve gone from reaching only 20% of their alumni through personal emails to nearly 60% of their alumni when contacting them via business emails.

Why? Business emails typically have a larger response rate as the average person checks their work email nearly 10x per day!

Matching Gifts

If you haven’t heard about matching gifts yet, then you’re missing out! We saw an 18% increase in matching gifts in 2019. Universities are proactively targeting their campaigns to alumni who work for companies that offer the matching gift program. Essentially, it’s the easiest way to bring in more donations – just double the gifts from your alumni! 

Mentorships Programs

A successful career is built on top of hundreds and even thousands of singular moments where the best advice comes from the right person at the right time. We saw a large push towards universities looking to identify successful alumni to mentor recent graduates.

Developing a strong relationship with your alumni can help shape the future of your recent graduates. In fact, alumni who are presented with opportunities to engage and interact can be instrumental in building strong communities within your alumni network. 

Online Degree Programs

With more alumni trying to balance work/life/home, affordable online degree programs are on the rise. For these non-traditional alumni, engagement with their universities can be difficult. And for universities, staying in contact with these alumni will be your biggest challenge yet. 

To tackle the issue, many institutions are asking students to create a LinkedIn profile from their first day as a freshman, as part of their mandatory onboarding process. Capturing the LinkedIn URL of your alumni from day one is extremely beneficial as nearly 90% of URLs do not change. 

Transparency  

Uncertainty over where their money is really going can be a major factor that discourages donors and donations. Making sure your alumni know exactly where their gift is going and how it will impact a cause or project that they’re interested in will increase your chances of securing the funds you need. 

The most successful Universities are now tailoring their giving campaigns to alumni based on their causes of interest, career, industry, volunteer roles and more. So make sure you’re personalizing your engagement with your alumni and don’t forget to follow up with the results in the end.

Virtual campaigns 

Fundraising has been around forever, but virtual campaigns continued to rise in the latter half of the decade. Traditional fundraising is now tapping into the market of crowdfunding, and you can too! 

With most of your alumni on the internet already, it’s easier to simply click a button to make a generous donation, than wait for an envelope in the mail. Most alumni use multiple social media handles too, making it simple for them to share your institution’s campaign and their contribution. 


Are you interested in learning more about how LiveAlumni can help you with your 2020 fundraising and development strategies? Contact us below! 

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