Turning Students into Donors

Have you ever wondered what separates schools with seemingly inelastic enrollment numbers, from those schools that struggle to keep student numbers trending upward?  The answer has a lot to do with the engagement of alumni, and the extent to which those who have graduated invest in their Alma Mater. The following are three tips schools can use to turn a temporary relationship with a student, into a lifelong partnership with a College or University:

1. Create Value in the Degree

One of the most important things an institution of higher education can do, is insure that a degree received from it, will hold value and create wealth for most graduates.  The way to accomplish this is by making sure that the best and brightest available applicants from a diverse workforce, are hired to deliver a superior education. The quality of the education will not only set your staff apart from the rest of the higher education world, but it will undoubtedly result in graduates excelling when compared to their counterparts in the workplace.  Without wealth and disposable income, the potential does not exist to give back to the school at a later time.

2. Engage the Students Before They Leave

Creating a strong community atmosphere is one of the most effective ways of creating loyalty and unending support for your institution. By embracing a family structure, and encouraging diverse backgrounds and experiences to share and share alike from the benefits of the school, you will help the students create lifelong relationships with classmates. Integrating connected and invested alumni into the process, also gives the current students a glimpse of what their engagement level should be after school.  These activities might be community fundraisers, support from one campus group to another’s cause, Student Union activities, or reaching out to the outside community in the name of the institution, in order to meet the needs of the community at large.

3. Foster Good Will

Last but not least, make the student’s life during their time in school as painless as possible.  Encourage faculty and staff not to hide behind regulations that are discretionary in nature, just to deny a student’s request, simply because it would be easier than accommodating them. So many times, the college experience is wrought with controversy over financial aid, or admissions, or class scheduling. If it is within your power to help the student smoothly transition between what they have accomplished, and what they want to accomplish, do so for the good of both the student and the school.  The freshman students who have a bad impression of the institution today, are the same ones you will depend on for funding and recruiting in four, eight, or twelve years.  The relationship that will keep them connected to, and willing to fund the future of the institution, starts from day one, and should not be stressed more than absolutely necessary.  After all, there is a reason that the schools with the highest trending enrollment have the largest endowments. People want to see success where they spend their money, and they spend their money, where they experienced success.  The give and take inherent in alumni funding is a two way street, and understanding that from the outset is the best way to ensure the good will of the institution for years to come.

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Each week, our team of experts will put share their experiences, tips and viewpoints in all areas of higher education consulting, leadership, and fundraising. We're a team that consists of tenured individuals who have made it their life’s work to help solve some of the issues surrounding community colleges today. Some of our topics include:

  • How to connect and establish relationships with your alumni
  • Ways to create impact with all generations of people
  • How to raise more on a tight budget
  • How to properly manage your reputation online
  • Ways to prepare for a feasibility study
  • And more!