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The alumni segment that gave at a nearly 2x greater rate at the College of Charleston

November 22, 2019

Advancement leaders are always hunting for cohorts of alumni who have the greatest likelihood to donate. This can help leaders target solicitation outreach, gift officer time, and their own mindshare. But all too often, seemingly promising segmentation approaches don’t reveal actionable differences in giving rates.

Through our partnership with the College of Charleston, we investigated one such promising subgroup, alumni who have participated in Greek life, to see if their participation made a difference in their likelihood to give, years and decades down the road.

The College of Charleston has a passionate and engaged alumni base, but like many schools, they also have tens of thousands of alumni who have made no recent gifts. Working with EAB Advancement Marketing Services, the College gained insight into which alumni characteristics are especially connected to annual giving. Data points like age, major, proximity to campus, email type, degree type, and more, were examined to see how useful they would be in choosing the best possible audience to focus on in their solicitations.

How Greek life connects to alumni participation

The College of Charleston knew that Greek life holds a special place in the heart of many of their alumni. Roughly 20% of their living alumni have a Greek life participation flag in the college’s CRM. When EAB analyzed the contactable alumni population based on Greek affiliation, alumni who had been part of a fraternity or sorority gave at a rate almost double that of their non-Greek peers (looking at giving across the past 3 fiscal years).

Affiliation (All Alumni)

Greek Affiliation

No Greek Affiliation

Giving Rate



EAB went further to dig into exactly which fraternity and sorority memberships had alumni giving back at the highest rate. This data helped EAB model the best possible audiences for the College’s annual giving solicitation. Sharing this data with the College meant that their giving staff could adjust their outreach accordingly.

Greek life affiliation may deepen over decades

The insight that alumni who had participated in Greek life were giving at a much higher rate raised the question of whether this lift was coming mainly from young alumni. Perhaps Greek young alumni are more enthusiastic to give back after graduating, having participated in numerous philanthropic endeavors through their chapter while in school. To see whether this increase held up beyond the young alumni years, EAB sliced the data to include only alumni who graduated 15+ years ago.

Greek affiliation of alumni who graduated 15+ years ago

Greek Affiliation

No Affiliation

12.8% Giving Rate

5.8% Giving Rate

Looking at these alumni who had moved beyond the young alumni phase, the gap in giving rate between Greek and non-Greek was even wider. This insight into how the “Greek life advantage” widens as alumni move from new graduate to seasoned professional has helped the College of Charleston adapt their solicitation strategies to better target their alumni.

If your own outreach strategies don’t yet account for data points like Greek life affiliation, begin the conversation within your own team about implementing processes to take advantage of data related to your alumni base’s time on campus. Understanding facets of your alumni’s college experience that were the most meaningful to them will help focus your advancement team’s efforts effectively.

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