Higher Education Fundraising: How Alumni Can Drive Your Capital Campaign

Is it time to build a new library or science center at your college or private school? Your typical fundraising strategies may not be enough to raise the funds you need within the strict time frame construction demands, so you’ll have to change things up. Why not consider launching a capital campaign?

This form of fundraising is a great way to get the funds you need within your desired timeline and is specialized for major fundraising efforts. Though, for your campaign to be successful, you’ll need the proper tools.

At iWave, we offer a next-generation fundraising platform built on billions of datapoints designed to make fundraising easier and more efficient. If you’re ready to kick off your school’s capital campaign, we’re ready to help you. We’ll even show you how to reach some of the very best potential donors: alumni.

Also check out our Capital Campaign Guide

What’s a Capital Campaign?

What’s a capital campaign? A capital campaign is generally used to raise funds for structures that will help organizations grow. You should utilize this type of campaign for a one-time goal rather than ongoing improvements to the school or new program creation.

For example, a capital campaign wouldn’t be the best option for expanding your university’s science program but would be a proper fit for building a new biology wing.

This type of fundraising is unique since it can be broken into two separate fundraising campaigns:

  • Private (Quiet)
    The private phase is the initial fundraising stage in a capital campaign. This is when you’d reach out to specific donors to ask for gifts to get started. The private, or quiet, phase of the campaign is where you’ll raise the majority of funding needed for your goal, so you’ll want to contact major donors at this time.
  • Public
    After the private portion of the capital campaign, the next step is to open it up to public fundraising. This is when anyone can make a donation to help fill in the gaps and bring you over the finish line to your goal. Any donor can be helpful at this time and any gift amount is accepted.

Since most of your fundraising should be done in the private phase, it’s crucial you’re using the proper tools to maximize your donations. Reaching your goal or even surpassing it during the private fundraising segment means your campaign will be more successful and ensures you’ll reach your goals.

Why Turn to Your Alumni?

Some of the best potential donors are alumni. If someone has attended your school in the past, they are more likely to be a grateful donor. Our fundraising software will help you discover which alumni are more likely to support your campaign.

Let’s take, for example, a graduate named Hailey. She graduated from your institution with a degree in Computer Science in 2015 and returned the next year for her Master’s degree as well. She has now been working in the field for five years and has a senior-level position at her company. Hailey owes her knowledge of computer science to the classes she took at your school and is still active within your admissions department as a result.

Hailey would make a great major donor to your cause because she has a strong connection to your university. Research has shown that potential donors are much more likely to support a cause they have a close connection to. And, when it comes to education, who’s closer to the school than alumni?

Former students have seen your programs firsthand and have benefitted greatly from them, so they’re highly likely to support your fundraising goals.

How Can iWave Create a More Successful Campaign?

If you’re looking to start a successful capital campaign, consider teaming up with iWave to get the job done. We’re especially helpful in the private phase to help you find the best donors for your mission. Our fundraising software analyzes billions of datapoints for you to streamline the process and save time. The platform then organizes the information to show you which potential donors are the best match for your organization.

We’ll take information about your alumni and organize it into a list from most likely to give to least likely. This feature pinpoints which donors you should ask from first as well as which ones have the greatest propensity to give. We’ll then uncover how much to ask for, so you can feel greater confidence in your ask and leave knowing that no money was left on the table.

Knowing how much to ask for is also helpful during the planning of your campaign. Since you need the majority of your funding completed by the end of the private phase, proper planning guarantees this goal is met.

Sit down with your team before launching your campaign to create a list of potential donors with anticipated gift amounts. If you’re not hitting your number you’ll want to perform more wealth screenings and expand your major donor pool.

How to Fundraise from Alumni

Once you’ve identified who to ask from, it’s time to go to work. Fundraising can be quick and simple and can allow you to get the gifts you need exactly when you need them. Some ways you can reach out to donors in the private phase include:

  • Schedule meetings with your potential donors to discuss your mission and what your new building will provide for your school. Meetings can be done in person or online and are a great way to put a friendly face to your campaign. This also helps to personalize the entire experience and craft a stronger relationship with your alumni.
  • Send out letters or emails to help save time and maximize donations. Send these resources out as an initial way of gaining interest. Make sure to include contact information if a donor is interested in learning more about your campaign.
  • Make fundraising even more interesting by offering to sell naming rights to your former students. From benches outside the building to pillars, you can create a price sheet of how much naming rights will cost to help bring in the funding you need at the private level. This is also a great way for alumni to get the recognition they deserve for contributing to your cause.

Make Fundraising More Exciting

After you’ve uncovered the best alumni to jumpstart your capital campaign during the private phase, it’s time to fundraise at the public level. There are many ways to fundraise, but you want to make sure you’re choosing a way that engages your audience and gets them excited about your mission. Fun events are also more likely to be shared among friends, increasing your donor pool.

When you open to the public for donations, some of the ways you can engage your audience include:

  • Social Media Presence
    The best way to reach your goal is to make sure people know about your cause. Social media is a great tool enabling you to reach a wider audience than ever before.

Spread awareness for your capital campaign by creating a Facebook page or sharing a hashtag. Ask your current students and alumni to share the hashtag, so people can click on it and learn more about why you’re building your new hall or educational center. From there, the public can make a donation and continue to spread your cause.

You can also look into crowdfunding pages which help you reach large audiences. Share that link all over your website and social media pages as well. No matter what platform you decide to use, you’ll want to include plenty of information about your goals as well as any updates and milestones reached.

  • Host a Raffle
    You can also ask alumni to donate items for a raffle. Does a former student work for a sports team? Then they may be able to contribute tickets to a game! Consider a tech graduate who can donate the latest gadget their company is working on. Use iWave to learn about the type of companies your alumni are working for and then tailor your ask from there.

Afterwards, you can reach out to current students and alumni to sell tickets for these items. The public is more likely to give when they feel as if they’re receiving something in return, so this is a great way to finish off funding for your capital campaign.

The best part is the raffle can either be held virtually or in person. Virtual events are a great way to reach a wider audience since you probably have alumni and supporters all over the world.

  • Host a Competition
    Put the fun in fundraising by hosting donation competitions. Divide students and staff into various teams based on department, school year, or major and then ask them to compete to see who can raise the most funds. Make sure there’s an incentive for the winner to encourage them to raise as much as possible.

Let our Fundraising Software Empower Your University

Your school has been educating young adults and sculpting their futures for years and you need new ways to continue your mission. If you’re starting a capital campaign to raise money for your next building, consider making iWave a vital part of your strategy.

See for yourself what our fundraising software brings to the table by requesting a demo or a free fundraising assessment. Our team is happy to show you exactly how our platform can meet your specific needs.

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