Questions To Ask Alumni to Maximize Donations

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What Motivates Alumni to Donate?

Getting alumni to donate involves holding meaningful events to bring them together and listening to their feedback about alumni experiences. At these fundraising events ask these alumni the following questions:

1. What are common themes of your experience at the school?
2. What events did you enjoy when you were a student?
3. What areas of the school do you think could be improved?
4. What keeps you in contact now?

Tapping the Past, for the Future

After you’ve gotten some answers, hold an informal gathering built on shared interests and motivations regarding the school. For example, if the school has a strong basketball team, consider a pre-game mixer with a follow-up trip to the game, with alumni sitting together. For those who cannot attend, create a web page with updates via social media. Have some fundraiser scouts at the game and online, to ask whether alumni would consider donating. Mention which concerns need attention, such as the gym, the uniforms, and the equipment.

Build on Alumni Pride

Some areas of a school aren’t as colorful and social as sports, music, and drama. The way to get alumni to give to programs that involve art, writing and science is to highlight what students are doing, what they need now, and tie that to the past. Here are a few ideas:

Assign an art project that involves drawing different parts of the school and special moments on campus. Showcase student work in a real and virtual gallery with a fundraising event. There, alumni can donate money and purchase student work to benefit the school. Ask for feedback from donors about what spurred them to give.

Assign a student project of writing a letter to an alumnus. The letter should center on a student’s happy memory at the school. Allow alumni to donate a small sum to receive a real or digital message and reply to their student.

Have students write a funny explanation of their science project. Create an interactive digital gallery of the student science fair with digital tags that alumni can click on to read about student projects. Have teachers explain what supplies the classes need to continue this work. Allow alumni to donate to specific funds, such as science supplies.

These scenarios, and others like them, present “feel good” opportunities to create a buzz around the school and attract media attention. They make students and alumni aware of one another’s existence and reveal the potential for the future. After you’ve held a few of these fundraisers, ask for responses from students, parents, administrators and alumni about additional ideas for similar events. It’s almost sure you will have unleashed everyone’s creativity!

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