The Right Message, the Right Time and the Right Messenger
Parent fundraising programs can be especially tricky. There are longstanding debates in fundraising about how, and even whether, to solicit parents of current college students. Some parents have ample resources to make major gifts on top of the money they already invest in their child’s education. But most parents, if they have resources to spare, are at least somewhat stressed by fundraising calls. They’re already pressured to make ends meet. How can we ask them to give any more money to the university?
The best approach is not asking them to support the university but asking them to support its students. And while that may be obvious, it’s surprisingly difficult to pull off. Nurturing a sense of parental care not just for their student but for all students is easier said than done. It’s not just about the message. It’s also about the messenger.
TCU found the right messenger when they hired Chinirah, a TCU student, to serve as a Campus Creator in the inaugural year of their Donor Experience: Campus Creators program. Working her pool of annual giving prospects, Chinirah reached out to a TCU alum and mom of an incoming freshman. If you’ve parented a college student, you know that their first year is particularly stressful and emotional – for them – and for you.
Enter Chinirah and her fellow Campus Creators. Unlike traditional phonathon outreach, which interrupts donors at inconvenient times, Campus Creators use the creative and personal digital engagement framework created for EverTrue’s Donor Experience programs. This type of engagement, designed to be more personal and more convenient, makes parents feel connected, not hounded. Using less intrusive outreach methods like email, texting, social media and ThankView videos, Campus Creators forge connections with alumni and parents at times that work for them.
And just by being who they are, Campus Creators are the perfect messengers. They are living reminders of the value of a college education, the impact that support for students can make, and the imprint college makes in the lives of those fortunate enough to go there. Reaching a parent in the middle of a major life transition requires the kind of warmth that a buckslip simply can’t provide.
Using her Campus Creator toolbox, Chinirah was able to reach this mom at the right moment. And it led to forging a personal connection that benefited them both. The mom was happy to make a generous gift to TCU. And Chinirah made a difficult time easier for her and her family by arranging a campus tour. The best part? Chinirah met the whole family while they were on tour, surprising her with a “TCU Mom” hat from the campus store. It was a great day for everyone and a reminder of the power of philanthropy to not only improve the lives of students, but the lives of donors as well.
When fundraising is done strategically – at the right time, through the right messenger – the results can be dramatic. TCU has seen extraordinary outcomes in its first year of DX:CC. Year-over-year giving participation grew by nearly 12% overall and nearly 20% among donors of $1,000-$9,999.
TCU’s Campus Creators also retained the donors they contacted at a rate 51% higher than the national average. These metrics are impressive, especially when considering that TCU’s DX:CC program has just begun.
Still, numbers only tell part of the story. The value of creating real connections between students and donors, bringing joy to them both, is immeasurable. It’s why EverTrue continues to innovate in ways that not only increase philanthropy, but also improve the entire experience of being a donor. Every donor deserves to know how important they are in the lives of current and future students. And with programs like DX:CC, EverTrue is making that happen on campuses across the country.