Despite their recent warm memories as students, for many young alumni it can be difficult to donate much money to their alma mater. However, as well articulated in a recent post entitled “Why Development Should Ask Young Alumni For Content Before Money” by Ryan Catherwood at the University of Washington and Lee, these early years can also serve as a remarkable occasion for development offices to get alumni to donate what’s most fresh in their minds—their fond experiences and lessons learned from days on campus.
A great example of this was a recent event and collaborative effort of the advancement team and student programing office of my alma mater, Boston College. The event, entitled “Legacy of Leadership,” connected alumni who were past student club leaders to come back and meet with current student leaders. Whether guiding students through the essentials of time management, or providing them direction as they navigate through the challenges of running a student organization, we appreciated the opportunity to give tangible advice to students and to share an experienced perspective. Of course, it also never hurts to get us back on campus, either.
In “Cultivating Your Crop,” a report from CASE, it is noted that 80% of major alumni donors had made consistent gifts for the first five years after graduation. In “The Habit of Giving” by Jonathan Meer, it is found that 94% of those who give their first 5 years out of school gave when they became older, versus just 63% who gave once in their first 5 years. In summary, it is useful to get young alumni in the habit of giving early. Sharing content is a great place to start. With so many outlets to tell a story, from Facebook to Tumblr, young alumni should be accustomed to give advice to current students on a regular basis. Advancement offices can frequently prompt young alumni on these platforms for the best ways to get through finals week, to recall their big game against a rival or how they made professors into life-long mentors. Recent grads want to tell current students their past goof-ups and how they can learn from their mistakes—help them do it!
How is your development office empowering young alumni to share their memories?