3 Questions to Ask During Your Annual Fundraising Drive

One of the key sources of revenue for college athletics lies in its annual fund. Many universities create a club to offer a “sense of belonging” and connection to the school, where one’s membership is “synonymous with his/her annual contribution.” Institutions are tasked with finding a balance between annual fund marketing and stewardship of donors. Between engaging and preserving loyal donors, finding and attracting new donors, and setting the membership levels just right, there’s a science behind the perfect annual fundraising drive.

Are we asking for the right contribution?

Have you ever received a fundraising letter where there are pre-determined donation amounts? Despite the fact that donors could write in their own donation amount, the pre-determined amounts can have a large effect on someone’s willingness to give. For instance, if a donor that gives $5,000 a year receives a letter and the highest “ask” is $2,000, then that donor might be inclined to give less. On the other side of the coin, if the ask is above the price the donor was prepared to give, they might choose to not donate at all. Data analytics gives athletic departments the ability to assess their fan base and better predict the various giving levels that are best for each tier.

Are we asking the right fans?

Understanding your fans’ connection to the university is critically important to the marketing of your annual fundraising drive. Connecting data sources enables your department to understand who your donors used to be so that they can be reengaged; who your donors are, so that they can be supported; and which fans look like your current donors, so that they can be approached. The messaging used by your marketing team should be reflective of the type of fan and donor that you are reaching out to. Analytics enables athletic departments to pinpoint the specific audience they need and refine their messages accordingly.

What is the driving force behind why your donors give to your university? At Loyola University Maryland, they found that the benefits being offered were not actually driving donors’ decisions on how much they were willing to give. Rather, their emphasis was placed on the importance of donations to impact student-athletes. Since then, Loyola’s paid season ticket holders increased and their annual fund grew in both dollars and donors. Additional benefits – such as access to preferred ticketing – are now a “pleasant surprise,” rather than an entitlement. It is so important to understand and respond to the key drivers that impact your constituents’ decision-making.

When you’re assessing your annual fund this year, be sure to answer these critical questions. Understand that each fan is unique, and the way that they need to be approached can greatly vary. If you’re interested in learning how analytics can impact your annual fundraising drive this year, visit www.fanalytical.com to find out more!


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