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Small Colleges Can Get BIG Donations

Cape Cod Community College is not a large University. But this small institution punches well above its weight when it comes to donations. This year, they received a $5 million dollar donation from a local philanthropist called Maureen Wilkens. That is the largest single donation the College has ever received – equal to 51 percent of their endowment!

So how did they do it? They have a fraction of the alumni that a school like Johns Hopkins University does. And fewer alumni on record means there are fewer prospects to target. It’s a challenge all small schools and community colleges face.

But Cape Cod Community College was up for the challenge. They proved that a small college can still cultivate large donations – even though they don’t have the same pool of high-level earners as a large school does.

Let’s take a look at other examples to see how you can do the same.

Use Facts To Target Your Donations

Consider, Baylor University. They have 300+ senior-level executives and 25 CEOs reported*. An institution of this size tends to have an average of about 1% of alums working at that level. But with an impressive 2.4% of CEOs and Senior Executives in their alumni, Baylor is ahead of the game. Because these alums are likely to be high-level earners and could be great prospects.

Baylor also has 111 identified entrepreneurs who could be key alumni. These alums could be great mentors who could guide their young graduates and students through their career paths. They could also potentially make other significant contributions to the institution.

An anonymous $100 million donation was announced by Baylor University this week. It was, once again the largest gift the school has received. Like Cape Cod, they received a mega-gift.

Find Your Philanthropic Alumni

If you don’t have a large number of CEOs or senior-level executives, who else could you target for big donations?

Historically we’ve seen that volunteers often become donors. Alumni who sit on boards, volunteer, or work for foundations are more likely to donate because they know the true value of giving.

Going back to Cape Cod Community college, nearly 13%* of their alumni have expressed a philanthropic cause they’re interested in. And more than 400+ currently volunteer.*

Similarly, Cornell College has 300+ alumni with board positions and over 900+ with a philanthropic cause of interest.

Both being are smaller institutions, but these are huge lists to be prospecting. You can target your engagement efforts to similar groups, and you’ll see a much greater ROI.

Don’t Forget to Prospect your Academics

Top academics are an undervalued group of prospects. According to US census data, those with a Ph.D. will earn significantly more over their lifetime than grads with a Master’s degree. Many of these grads will go on to earn over 50,000 per year.

So take a look at your Ph.D’s. You could find that, like the University of California, Merced and Hanover College, you boast large numbers of alumni with Ph.D.’s relative to your size.

Start by Getting To Know Your Grads

So, if your team is at a small school, you might feel fundraising is difficult for you. But there are lots of big opportunities hidden within your graduates. The key to success is getting to know them.

To start using these successful fundraising methods, get some key insights about your institution right now. Check if we have your school’s alumni statistics and if we don’t, request them for FREE.

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Sources & Additional Information

[1] $5 Million Donation,

[2] Baylor University Stats,

[3] $100 Million Donation,

[4] Volunteers Become Donors,

[5] Cape Cod Community College Stats,

[6] Cornell College Stats,

[7] University of California Merced Stats,

[8] Hanover College Stats,

[9] Alumni Stats,


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