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Even as the market rebounded across the Fall, advancement’s steep performance drop continued. Calendar-year-end brought no reprieve, as most institutions saw big declines in dollars, donors, submitted proposals, and new major gifts. And more than one in four advancement teams saw fundraising revenues decline by more than 30%.

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At EAB, we recently had the privilege of talking with more than 30 Presidents and Chief Advancement Officers from regional colleges and universities across the United States in two virtual working-group sessions. In these meetings, we asked which outreach, engagement, cultivation, and solicitation strategies are working right now as institutions move beyond the initial “check-ins” or “care calls” of the earlier part of 2020 to restart giving conversations with donors today.

Up until earlier this year, engagement has meant tailgates, alumni happy hours, professional development workshops, and other in-person events. Digital programs were a rarity, an afterthought, a side-of-desk activity for busy event planners. All of that got turned on its head in March of this year. COVID-19 forced an abrupt pivot and, as a result, pushed alumni engagement strategy years into the future.

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