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The Big Shift in University Fundraising

Episode 168

October 13, 2023 40 minutes


Lola Mauer from Ball State University and Daniel Burgner from George Washington University join EAB’s Mark Shreve to discuss why they’re glad that US News and World Report no longer includes the alumni giving metric in determining its college rankings.

They also examine how their schools are adapting in response to the philanthropic behaviors of Gen Z and millennials. Lastly, they share top advice for other advancement professionals about adjustments they might consider to boost fundraising efforts today, and in the years ahead.



0:00:07.2 Speaker 1: Hello and welcome to Office Hours with EAB. Today’s episode explores the way that university fundraising is shifting in response to a recent change in the way US News and World Report accounts for alumni giving in determining the magazine’s college rankings. So give these folks will listen and enjoy.

0:00:36.9 Mark Shreve: Hello and welcome to Office Hours EAB. I am Mark Shreve, I’m managing director at EAB, and I get to work close with our partner institutions and their advancement leaders on their fundraising priorities. One of the perks of this job is that I get to build upon my own fundraising experiences by learning from some really smart people every day. And today I’ve invited two such people to talk about a recent shift that’s happened following the decision from US News and World Report to stop using alumni giving metrics as part of their college rankings methodology. Joining me today to talk about why that matters and how universities can change as a result are two of my favorite people, Lola Mauer from Ball State University, and Daniel Burgner from George Washington University. Lola, Daniel, thanks for joining us.

0:01:25.7 Lola Mauer: Thank you, Mark.

0:01:27.0 Daniel Burgner: Yeah, thanks for having us. I’m excited about this conversation. And I will say this is actually my first podcast that I’ve ever been on, so I am really excited to do this with EAB.

0:01:37.8 LM: I’m a veteran Daniel, this is my second one.


0:01:41.8 DB: You have 100% more podcast experience.

0:01:45.3 LM: 100%.

0:01:48.2 MS: Lola with that added experience, maybe we’ll start with you.

0:01:52.1 LM: Oh, great.

0:01:52.8 MS: Would you tell our listeners a little bit about your role at Ball State, and also tell us how you reacted when you heard about this change, the US News report?

0:02:00.7 LM: Sure. So I am the associate vice president of engagement and strategy at Ball State University. And when I share that with people, they say, “Wait, what? What does that entail?” So I have the great pleasure of working with the teams that include annual giving, donor relations, digital communications, engagement, and campus and regional engagement on top of that, which is something new that we are approaching and trying out at Ball State. And I must say Mark, I was excited as I heard about the change in the US News and World Report, and look forward to really diving into that today.

0:02:46.4 MS: That’s great. So Daniel, how about you? I know you’ve never been a big fan of this metric, so tell us about your role at GW and why this aspect of those rankings has been problematic in the past?

0:02:58.7 DB: Yeah, for sure. So here at GW, I’m the executive director of Annual Giving, and I’ve been here since March of 2022, so I’m still relatively new in my role here. We have a pretty centralized annual giving effort, and so we’ve got two teams that fall under my management. We’ve got our traditional annual giving marketing team that does all of the mailers and the emails giving day, Giving Tuesday, all the big marketing pushes that we do to get people to give through those mediums. And then we also have our leadership giving side of the house, which is a team of gift officers that are primarily focused on gifts between 1,000 and 49,999. So everything leading up to our major gift audience and that side of the house is almost exclusively focused on pipeline development and trying to identify the next generation of major gift donors. We’ve got some people to do annual giving in some of our larger academic units, but for the most part, it’s all central under one team here. And I report up to in the same org chart that our alumni relations team lives under, so we really focus on engagement overall, and thinking of holistic relationships that our alumni donors have with the university. Instead of this is the fundraising shop and this is the alumni relations shop, we all work together, which is fantastic, and I think is the right move for GW and the…

0:04:33.5 DB: Yeah, you’re right, Mark, I have never been a fan of that. And I think you’ll be hard-pressed to find anybody that actually works in our industry that was a big fan of alumni participation in the US News World Report ranking. I think including some element of philanthropy or alumni satisfaction, I think could live in that space somehow, but this number seemed really arbitrary and very easy for universities to… I gotta be careful with my words, but manipulate in order to get the number that they really want for their leadership team. And so it caused a lot of annual giving shops, but development shops overall to get really creative in how they were securing gifts and how they were determining what their denominator was for this participation goal. And we have a new president who started July 1st, and President Granberg gets asked a lot about rankings, as I imagine most university presidents do. And something that I really appreciate is she talks about how rankings need to be something that we look at to deliver a better service to our students, and so it’s a way for us to learn from our peers on what they’re doing really well and what we need to improve upon, and then also for us to compare ourselves from year to year on, how are we doing when it comes to the burden of debt that our students have when they graduate or our retention rate of students and number of tenured faculty, things like that.

0:06:09.6 DB: And alumni giving should be part of that too. And how are we growing and how are we identifying our strengths and weaknesses. So it should be a tool we use. We shouldn’t be managing and creating decisions around the rankings in order to get the number that we want, and I just have always, I’ve always appreciated that way of thinking of the rankings, and so it’s great now having our new president on board who shares in that and understands the place that rankings have, but not necessarily using them as a way to manage an entire university, which I really appreciate.

0:06:46.9 MS: Yeah, and we agree, it’s that percentage of alumni participation that’s so problematic, it’s thinking about different metrics that we can use to show support that alumni and friends are giving to our universities. So Daniel let me stay with you here for a moment here, you mentioned a bifurcated approach that your team takes, those that are the broader marketing efforts for annual giving and then the ones that are focused more on pipeline development with leadership, annual giving. How has anything changed since this shift in the rankings in recent months? Has anything changed?

0:07:22.3 DB: Yeah, so we had already really started to… ‘Cause there had been whispers in the wind for a little bit that this change might be coming, and so we had already started to change our thought process and gear a lot of our guiding post metrics away from alumni participation to just be more focused broadly on total donor count, and how many donors are making their first time gift versus their third gift to the university and who’s moving from their $100 level to $1000 level, kind of that moves management approach of how many people are we moving up the pipeline. So we had already started thinking about that, but with removing alumni participation as this big metric that we all focus in on, it gives us this freedom to look into different audiences. So for those of you listening who don’t know this alumni participation metric, what it’s only focused in on is undergraduate degreed alumni who have given money back to the university that year. So it completely forgets about your populations that are graduate only alumni, your family philanthropy, students, friends, grateful patients, any other faculty staff, any other audience that are important audiences.

0:08:44.7 DB: And it really just focuses on this one audience, this undergraduate degreed alumni, and so does a disservice to your entire donor base. And so having removed that metric from US News World Report, it gives us a lot more freedom to look at all of our audiences and figure out what is their philanthropic relationship with the university now, and what does it need to be. And so it just gives us a ton of freedom, which I really appreciate because it allows us to focus on what’s more important instead of just this arbitrary number, in my opinion, an arbitrary number, but Lola I don’t know if that’s kind of, if Ball State has already been doing the same thing over the past couple of years, or if you’ve never focused on alumni participation, some schools have never really cared about it.

0:09:31.2 LM: Yeah, that is not a metric that my team was really chasing or paying much attention to. Now, certainly by the end of every fiscal year, we would ask advancement services, “Hey, out of curiosity, what was our percentage of alumni who gave?” And it was hovering around the 8% range, but definitely not something that we were held accountable for, and I do think it’s important that participation… It matters that it’s declining, but Ball State, for example, we were rooted in philanthropy. So when the Ball family founded the university, there’s always been that spirit of philanthropy there, and we have an amazing arts culture, and certainly our Giving Day has amplified some of the non-alumni supporters. And last fiscal year, just over 37% of our donors were not even graduates of Ball State. And so we have made a shift since the alumni engagement team was unified with the other areas that I lead to really think about, do we need that alumni title in there, and so we’ve actually removed that from the team name and individual title to really be more inclusive of those non-alumni segments. We know graduates will always be our biggest constituency, but we really wanna connect with anyone who loves Ball State, and we really are very data-inspired and looking at who’s raising their hands, who wants to engage with us. And so, yeah, to that point, we have not really had a big focus at all on alumni participation here.

0:11:30.1 MS: I love that both of you have mentioned the freedom now to adapt to those who wanna engage with your universities, not just those that you’re trying to force back into engagement with your universities. Let’s take us a new direction. I wanna bring in perhaps maybe some context for those who aren’t as familiar with higher ed advancement and talk about how annual giving fits into overall fundraising priorities. One concern that I had when I heard about this shift that we knew was potentially coming down the road, was that boards and presidents have historically allocated extra budgets to ensure that we are building that participation number that also helps with rankings. So Daniel, Lola, welcome your thoughts here, are you concerned at all that perhaps moving away from alumni participation as part of these rankings will also de-emphasize the role of annual giving or perhaps even cut down some of the budgets allocated to annual giving?

0:12:29.6 DB: Yeah, no, it’s a good point, a good question. And I don’t know if Lola feels the same way, but working, I think, within higher ed, I’m always concerned about budget allocation. I don’t know Lola if you feel the same way where it’s a constant concern I have from year to year. But I will say, I think what we’re gonna see is a continued shift with our annual giving shops to continue to kind of marry… This is what we’re seeing at GW. So I guess I’ll talk about my own experience here, but kind of marrying the annual giving team more with marketing, because so much of what our broad-based annual giving team does is marketing. It’s figuring out what a nice good messages and a call to action, what’s imagery and taglines that are gonna resonate with a wide audience and encourage people to take action, just like any marketing company, any marketing firm will do for a large company. And we’ve historically had an annual giving shop or an annual fund shop, which is really like trying to just raise money for one general allocation when current use unrestricted fund, and then there’ll be like a marketing team and sometimes they would compete with each other. At GW, we’ve really tried to combine those efforts between our marketing and comms leads and our broad-based support annual giving shop to deliver a very cohesive message and be really respectful of the GW brand.

0:14:03.8 DB: And just think of our annual giving team as more of a warming tool to warm up the entire audience to make sure the brand’s getting out there, people understand why it’s important to give. People are raising their hand, and when those people raise their hand than the whole conversation shifts around stewardship and impact messaging and making sure they understand that we care about that first gift and so they should make a second gift. And so some things have changed, but these changes were already happening, I think, as our universities were getting more digital and our marketing efforts were getting smarter when it came to segmentation. And it’s a fun industry to work in because we are trying to be incredibly innovative because we have to be, and because we have very limited budgets and we have big goals. But this innovation comes from these types of conversations and learning from colleagues like Lola and other schools, because we all have our own little market and we can all just focus on our market, which means we can share cool ideas, and that’s what I love about working in this industry.

0:15:10.7 DB: But yeah, so there’s gonna be changes, and I’m always concerned about budget, but I think the programs that continue to evolve and be smart about where the market’s heading, I don’t think they have too much to worry about. Because regardless of the alumni participation metric, annual giving, this kind of broad-based messaging around philanthropic impact, will always be important. It’s just how we deliver it and how we stay efficient in our strategies to be mindful of those hard budget numbers we all gotta hit.

0:15:42.3 LM: Yeah, I’m so glad you said that too, Daniel, because right when you were talking about the relationship between marketing and annual giving, and that’s one of the reasons that digital communications is a direct report to me, and those teams, annual giving, and of course doing relations, they’re working close together, and that digital communications team is right there in the thick of it. And much like you, the annual giving team at Ball State is responsible for that leadership annual giving, DXO type program where you’ve got gifts of $1000-24,999. And so annual giving will always be, in my opinion, that feed right up through the ultimate giving experiences that we hope a good number of our constituents get to that principal giving level. And here at Ball State, annual giving is also responsible for athletic fundraising under $25,000. And so we have a great partnership with athletics, and they rely on us for that for those strategies, and I think we would also be remiss to not include the technological advancements that are happening, that annual giving has to be a part of, that marketing within higher ed has to be a part of.

0:17:09.8 LM: And this is no doubt why I think there are more universities that are seeing these marketing and digital teams pop up, not only in the advancement/foundation division, but specifically within that alumni engagement annual giving realm because you’ve got these online giving platforms, you’ve got the social media, and everything really needs to be data-driven, data-inspired strategies. And I think… I would say that annual giving is probably one of the teams that does that best because they sit on a plethora of data to be able to drive those strategies.

0:17:54.6 MS: Yeah.

0:17:55.5 DB: Yeah. And just to chime in with the importance there, I think now in the year 2023, we have so many advancement leaders now who have worked in this field for 20, 30 years and that hasn’t always been the case. For a while it was like, Oh, they were a really important banker in the community, and now they are vice president of advancement, they were a really well-connected business person, and now they’re leading the advancement shop, and that still exists. And those people, some of them are phenomenal leaders, but now we have so many people in leadership roles in advancement shops who possibly started in annual giving or have worked in the industry long enough to see the long-term legacy of a strong annual giving program of like, this person made their first gift of $100, and now their name is on a building, and there was a 30-year span right there. And so they can see that. And so, I don’t know, I always think about if you care about the long-term health of your university, what your university is gonna look like in 20 or 30 years, you have to care about annual giving now.

0:19:03.0 DB: It’s kind of like that old adage of planting a tree, where it’s like, the best time to plant a tree is 30 years ago. The second-best time to plant a tree is today, because it’s gonna have an impact in 30 years. So we now have those leaders that are in place, which is just really, I think, changing the dynamic of the industry to think long-term about how we are engaging our donors and building in a life cycle for them because we’ve got those leaders in place now. Leaders like Lola who has been doing this for a while now and is able to bring around some really cool transformational changes in our industry, so thanks, Lola.

0:19:42.7 LM: Thank you. Yeah, I was just gonna say, I was doing the math, and I realized I’ve been doing this type of the advancement work for 25 years now. And I remember starting out as a student caller and then running a phone-a-thon as an assistant director of annual giving. And people would say, “Oh, so do you wanna work in plain giving or major gifts?” And I thought, “Neither.” Annual giving has become this very robust pathway where you can just stay and do these amazing things and all these different things. And I know that even from the leadership annual giving officers that we hire, that they go on to be major gift officers and it’s truly that wide background of annual giving that touches so many different things from multi-channel, just to what you know and learn that I think is really valuable to carry through positions, whether it’s a major gift officer or beyond that. But just knowing that there is such a need for the unique things that annual giving brings to the table, yeah I’m not concerned about it going anywhere.

0:21:06.7 LM: And I will share quickly that we had several years ago, a new foundation board member who said, “You know, I’ve been doing some thinking and if we got rid of annual giving and donor relations and just hired more gift officers and got ’em out there in front of people, we would just end up raising the money.” And I remember the look on people’s faces thinking, “Well, what an interesting concept there, sir. But actually, that would be a very bad idea.” And now I would say he totally knows different, he knows better, but there are, I think, some of those misconceptions that like, oh, what is needed there, but definitely annual giving is a powerhouse all on its own.

0:22:01.7 DB: I would have loved to have been in that room and hearing you trying to hold your tongue and just be like, “Wow, what an interesting idea.”


0:22:09.6 LM: Yeah.

0:22:09.6 DB: Lola, so you started as a student caller?

0:22:14.1 LM: I did, yes, as a student caller because my college friend worked as a student caller and I thought, “Oh wait, you’re doing what? I can do that.” And so, yeah, we did the job together and she is not still in advancement work-wise, but I did not know that this was a career path. And so, here I am, yeah.

0:22:42.2 DB: So same thing, I started as a student caller and I applied for that job because they would let me do my homework, sitting at the desk.

0:22:48.7 LM: Oh, yeah.

0:22:53.5 DB: And then I’ve just stuck with it and there’s this… It’s always fun to meet someone that works in this industry that started as a student caller, because I feel like those of us have started that way kind of just in the trenches asking for donations from anybody that would answer the phone. I find that people like us are just fearless when it comes to making an ask but also just strategies and how we think about decision-making, it’s like, “Look, we just gotta go for it and see what happens here.”

0:23:25.3 LM: That’s right.

0:23:26.2 DB: And so it’s always fun to meet a call center alum like yourself.

0:23:31.0 MS: Let me share here that there’s a third previous student caller on this podcast as well. And that’s where I got my start. I think what we’re talking about here is that the work too that we’re all doing in annual giving has radically changed in the past 20 years and has become increasingly complex. You mentioned technology and marketing and shifting behaviors, we’re no longer perhaps leading the phone programs that we led 20 years ago, but sort of think about how that plays engine overall alumni giving strategy. Lola, let me pitch this back to you then, what are we gonna do moving forward? How we’re gonna better engage our alumni now, especially the Gen Z alums that are graduating today, perhaps even the millennials as well, people of my generation that will be part of the next campaign efforts for universities? We’re facing this continuous decline from alumni giving, how do we bring them back if at all, will it bounce back?

0:24:27.0 LM: What a good question, Mark. I wish I would have that crystal ball that would tell us what all we need to be thinking about. As I recently had a conversation with a colleague about this very subject, those new generations, different values, different communication styles, different preferences, definitely living that Amazon effect, and the immediate answers that social media and just the entire web can bring, and that makes me a little uncomfortable in the sense that higher ed doesn’t really move that fast. There’s a lot of things happening. And how do we adapt to that? We obviously are an industry that is working with the 75-year-old established donor to the 55-year-old, 30-year consecutive giving donor, and that two-year-out grad that just made their first gift or who haven’t given at all. And when we look at the vast numbers that those under just say the age of 35, 40, I mean, gosh, that’s our biggest constituency here, and I feel like higher ed is at this point where we’re very good back to the annual giving thing, particularly annual giving. It’s like you’ve got all these plates, and it’s like one plate is, “We’ve gotta still do direct mail, it’s bringing in a lot of money. We’ve gotta still do the Giving Day, we’ve got young alumni, we’ve got maybe your faculty staff campaign.”

0:26:18.9 LM: There’s all these different plates. And then it’s like, “Oh, and then we also need to do this. And by the way, how are you talking about all these generations differently, how are you talking to that graduate that has been giving 30 years in a row versus the one that just made their first-time gift?” But I think there’s even something in that. Because the first-time donor who’s 50 years old and a first-time donor who’s 21, very different. So how do annual giving and donor relations approach that? How do you show that appreciation and demonstrate impact? And are you going to really say, “Look, what we do together?” I know community has been a big subject lately, as far as what does the result of their philanthropy do. It’s no secret that generationally speaking, it’s very different for those more recent grads to think about “Gosh, I’m walking around campus and it’s beautiful. Oops, there’s my favorite professor. Oh gosh, wait, what my tuition just isn’t getting it done. Oh, philanthropy exists.”

0:27:35.3 LM: I think that that should probably keep advancement professionals up at night, and I think it’s everyone’s concern, I don’t think that just belongs to annual giving to figure out. I think it should be a conversation at big tables. As I truly believe, as you talk about in higher ed, what is that collective impact? I just really think we really ought to be talking about that. I think it’s important, and I think the community of donors overall, whether you are a recent grad or a friend of the university, positive change is happening, but generationally speaking, we really, really need to have conversations now, I think a lot of us are probably even behind.

0:28:22.0 MS: Yeah.

0:28:24.8 DB: Yeah, just to chime in there, I think Lola really hit the nail on the head. It’s a big conversation, and I think a lot of it is kind of circling around what is the true value of higher education in the United States, where people are paying for it out of pocket, and it’s not just a government service. And I think our marketing teams and we need to do a better job of celebrating and sharing the stories of why higher ed matters and why it is a really great investment for an individual, but also as a society. When we think about all of the research coming out of our universities, universities are the leading provider of all research in the country. And when we think about the best way for someone to move up in social status and finances, it’s education, it’s getting a degree in order to have more mobility in the workforce, and we need to celebrate that a little bit more. But when it comes down to brass tacks, what are we doing to try to fix this and bring in more donors? At GW, something we’re really leaning in on right now is a video messaging.

0:29:41.6 DB: When you look online, everything is video now, and I don’t think it is a great thing. Whenever I am like, “Should I read more of my book or should I spend some time watching reels on Instagram?” Guilty, I will watch reels. Yeah, it’s not good. I’m not saying we as a society are in healthy place, let’s bring the mountain to Muhammad a little bit here. And if people wanna watch videos to receive information, then let’s give the people what they want a little bit. And so we’ve hired a team of students and all they’re doing is creating video content, and some of them are appeals for gifts. A lot of them are stewardship, and some of them are just explainer videos about Giving Day, about our different donor societies, about our…

0:30:30.6 LM: “What is the unrestricted fund, and why should you care?”


0:30:34.4 DB: “What is the unrestricted fund and why should you care?” That was a short video because it’s hard to make the case. So we’re trying to do a lot more videos and then pushing them out digitally, so using digital ads and social media paid promotional posts to identify the right audience and then push these videos to those audiences to try to get the message out in a little bit more of a digestible way. And it’ll take time to really see if it moves the needle the way we need it to. Some early results are positive, so we’re feeling good about it, but it’s a big investment. But if we look at what other companies are doing and other industries are doing, everything’s moving towards video. And so we’re trying to do the same thing here at GW.

0:31:21.8 LM: Yeah, and I also challenge my team. “Great. We sent that video, who watched it? Who watched the entire thing? And now what’s the next step for that individual?” To me, that’s raising their hand a little higher than the person that at least opened it, and so we’re delving into that a bit further too with video. And Mark, I’m curious what you’re seeing and hearing from partner institutions about this?

0:31:53.3 MS: Yeah, Lola that’s a great question. So part of this is really finding new ways to meet our alums where they are, and it sounds so simplistic, but that’s easier said than done. Daniel message some video messaging that must be done at scale, of course, we’re investing in digital marketing efforts that can reach more alums that still might have engagement with your universities, but not leaning in to make a gift. I think the bright spot I would share with those listening today is that the investment is worth it. We are graduating currently some of the most generous individuals alive today. And yet we’ve struggled with as professionals to really tie them back to higher ed, and to use Daniel’s words, celebrate some of the reasons why higher ed matters. And we’re facing those headwinds, not only on the fundraising side, but drawing students to campus in the first place and trying to create that value proposition as to why they should invest back in higher ed.

0:32:51.1 MS: The good news though is that we are finding greater ways to be in front of these alums whether they’re with they’re Gen Zs, Millennials, Boomers, Gen X, and certainly we’ve got some room to grow. Let me ask one final question of the two of you, you mentioned before that it’s not only about meeting alumni where they are and engaging them back with their alma mater, but also expanding that audience to parents and friends, and faculty and staff and others that are part of these communities. Let me ask the two of you, are there certain things you’ve done to connect them with the nostalgia of their experience or create some joy, for perhaps a lack of a better word, or celebrate why they should stay engaged with your university?

0:33:41.9 DB: Great, great question. So I think when it comes to celebrating joy and making it fun and this connection, what I have found is that people, myself included, and I don’t know if this is a result of the pandemic or if that just amplified it, but people are craving authentic connection, more than almost anything else, which means you need to learn more about the person you’re soliciting a gift from and building engagement with, so that you can deliver relevant content. So what did they study, what kind of areas on campus have they donated to before? What was their student org? And all the things we already know about them in higher ed, and then deliver that relevant content back to them so that they can hear the stories and learn about the things happening on campus that are relevant to them. And so you gotta make it personal for the donor, but then also on the flip side, I think you have to make it personal from yourself too, and that there’s an institutional voice that comes along with that working in higher ed, but also as an individual.

0:34:49.0 DB: If you are a gift officer, or if you are a marketing professional, make sure you’re telling stories that you are passionate about, that you wanna share, because they will feel the passion from you, whether you’re doing a Zoom meeting with a donor or you’re doing a digital ad, or you’re drafting video content, they will feel that you are passionate about this. And at the very end of the day, this is something we’ve said in our industry forever, is that people give to people, and if they feel like they’ve established a personal connection with the person asking for the gift, they’re a lot more likely to give. And I think as a fundraiser, you’ll find a lot more fulfillment in your job as well, if you’re talking about things that you are really passionate about, that get you jazzed, that they will feel that. And again, I think it makes happy hour at the end of the day a lot more fun if you’ve been able to build authentic connections as the day goes on. So that’s my two cents on the subject.

0:35:45.7 LM: Yeah, I couldn’t agree more. And like I mentioned earlier, over 37% of our donors last fiscal year were not alumni, and so… Gosh, that’s so big for the annual giving and donor relations to look at. We are way past the time frame that I would say was characteristic of annual giving and donor relations years ago, where it was, “Everyone gets a first-time donor ticket.” I’m not saying that’s a horrible idea, I’m saying we should probably be thinking about how the first time donor parent who gives for a very different reason than a first-time donor who is a young alum or a first-time donor who is a bit more seasoned, and what that looks like for them. Because they’re giving based on who they were years ago, what they remember the university as, the nostalgia, and then you’ve got these parents or employees of the university who are giving for very different reasons, not even to mention the athletics supporter, when there may be benefit eligibility involved. And since we launched One Ball State Day in 2019, and we’ve seen these increases in employee giving, and last year of the over 10,000 gifts that came in on One Ball State Day, just over 2,000 of those gifts were from employee of the university. So how we thank them is very different, and then you can go down that path of like, “Well, you have the faculty who are alumni who gave, or you have the non-alumni who are employees who gave.”

0:37:40.9 LM: And I think we could probably spend all day just trying to figure out the different ways to thank of donor. But I think it’s also showing them that people do think collectively. Sorry, I started to get a call. I think that shows us that we can do things collectively, and that overall, there’s something we love about the institution, there’s something people love about Ball State University that unites them in philanthropy. It’s just that it may be because their grandson is on the golf team, or because they graduated from the Sciences and Humanities College and wow, did they have an amazing faculty mentor, and maybe some day they set up a scholarship in the name of that mentor. But I think that overall, in higher ed, if we’re not looking at those non-alum constituents who may be interested, not just what we have to offer, because I can’t imagine any given city that has a university, what would happen if that university was not there. There’s the community impact that there’s also the research that’s provided and the community engagement of the students and employees as well.

0:39:06.7 DB: Yeah.

0:39:07.7 MS: Well, Daniel, Lola, I know that we are just merely scratching the surface on this issue and this topic and also where we can go from here in engaging more alumni, parents and friends. This is important work, but today this has been a really fun conversation. Hopefully really productive for others, and just want to thank the two of you for sharing your thoughts with us here on Office Hours.


0:39:35.2 Speaker 1: Thank you for listening. Please join us next week as we mark National Transfer Student Week with an episode focused on best practices in streamlining transfer pathways. We’ll also look at how one institution in particular, engages transfer students well beyond the enrollment stage to ensure they start right and stay right to achieve their education goals. Until next week, thank you for your time.


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Alumni relations and fundraising have been turned upside down by the pandemic. Alumni are looking for career networks…

How Penn State Fundraisers Shifted Strategy in 2020

PSU’s VP of Development and Alumni Relations describes how his team adapted fundraising strategies and tactics during the…

How to Engage Student Activists and Donors to Drive Positive Change

Experts share strategies on ways to engage constructively with student activists and navigate difficult conversations with donors who…