How Spelman College Boosted Alumni-giving Participation

PROBLEM

During fiscal year 2006, which ended June 30, 2006, alumni giving dropped from 2005 to just 16.3 percent. “We know that 16 percent in no way reflects the love, dedication, commitment … alumni (feel for) the college,” says Reshunda L. Mahone, Spelman’s director of annual giving and institutional advancement. “Typically our alumni are accustomed to giving a gift during their reunion year celebrated every five and 10 years. They would save up and make a nice contribution when they’re on campus.”

ACTION

Officials came up with the “Every Woman … Every Year!” campaign, to encourage annual giving rather than reunion-year giving. “We shifted the focus from the amount of the gift to the act of giving,” Mahone adds. In addition to plastering the campaign logo throughout campus, in alumni mailings and on the college’s Web site, Spelman challenged the alumni of various groups to raise donations from fellow group alumni. Regular donors who had been members of the Glee Club, for instance, were charged with getting fellow Glee Club alumni to do- nate. They competed with various sororities and graduating classes to see which groups could gather the most alumni donations by Founder’s Day. “The key is to have alumni communicating with their classmates,” Mahone says, adding that “competition is something that works well at Spelman college.”

RESULTS

In 2006, Spelman received donations from 2,156 alumni for a total of $1.2 million. Spelman ended fiscal year 2007 with 3,773 donors for an alumni-giving participation rate of 28 percent — a 75 percent increase over 2006. The amount raised in 2007 hasn’t been audited, but Mahone says they at least brought in more than $1.3 mil- lion. Officials hope to increase annual alumni-giving participation rates incrementally to 100 percent by 2012.

–Diverse staff

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