RAISE Podcast: The Original Digital Gift Officer

Episode 9:

The Original Digital Gift Officer

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There’s a lot of chatter about digital gift officers these days. But before anyone was talking about it, Keith Hannon was doing it. Or at least figuring it out on the fly, since it wasn’t technically part of his job description.

That was back when he ran social media for Cornell University and trying to make an impact for the advancement team. These days Keith relies on some of those early strategies in his role as Associate Director of Alumni Affairs and Development for Cornell Athletics. It all started as he tried to figure out how he could bring maximum value to the university. 

To do that, it seemed to Keith, he had to make personal connections with prospects. Thanks to his previous life doing stand-up comedy and making videos in Hollywood, the obvious approach to establishing those relationships was through storytelling. So he got to work. He took quick videos of coaches to break the ice during one-to-one outreach. He dove into the likes on his social posts to understand his best followers. He put himself in front of the camera so people would immediately recognize him as “that guy from Facebook and Instagram” when he eventually reached out for a conversation. 

None of that was what he was tasked with doing. But it just made sense to Keith. In this episode of the RAISE podcast, Brent talks to Keith about blurring the line between communications and fundraising, why advancement teams need dedicated storytelling support and how quick videos lead to big donations.

(Check out Keith’s recent guest post on our blog: The Illusion of Local)

Keith’s approach started as a bit of an anomaly. But the longer he talked with Brent, the more clear it becomes that his approach ought to be the standard.

Keith Hannon

Associate Director of Alumni Affairs and Development for Athletics Cornell University

About Keith

Keith Hannon is a major gift officer for athletics at Cornell University. Previously, he was a member of Cornell’s alumni affairs and development’s digital innovation team where he managed online alumni communities and developed digital strategies for major- and leadership-level donor discovery and cultivation. He’s a recovering television/film professional who is quickly approaching 10 years in higher ed advancement.

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