What should advancement teams do in times of crisis like these?
The recent Coronavirus outbreak is affecting every aspect of life, and that impacts each department on college campuses, including advancement. While this is usually the season for Giving Days and fundraising drives, the daily news cycle is giving departments pause.
Deciding whether or not to postpone fundraising
Before you cancel your school’s well-laid plans for 2020, take stock in what your school is doing in the community and whether those causes could be helped by fundraising efforts. Even if your campus isn’t a research hub for finding a cure, there are still ways in which alumni and student outreach can change a community for the better. For example, the University of Vermont has set up a landing page where students and alums can contribute to the school’s pandemic response fund. Give alums a reason to be proud.
Barbara Barron, a consultant for growth and advancement of colleges and universities, wrote some interesting thoughts on whether or not advancement has a place in times of crisis.
Addressing commencement cancelation
Graduation day is a defining moment for many graduates, and it’s possible they’ll miss out on commencement due to the restrictions set forth by Coronavirus. Make sure your school is doing everything it can to celebrate the 2020 graduating class.
Commencement is a golden opportunity for advancement teams to build relationships with departing seniors to foster stewardship for the future.
Give alumni an outlet
Whether they’re quarantined or practicing social distancing, everyone is feeling isolated. This might be the perfect opportunity to host an e-event with alumni. Give people a chance to share stories or set up a speaker series with alums who may have an engaging story to tell.
Georgia Tech is planning a fun event that encourages alumni to share words of encouragement with current students. This texting campaign is helping to spread positivity during tough times.
People will crave connections more than ever in the coming weeks, and an online alumni event might give them a break from their latest Netflix binge session.
Make sure it’s about them, not you
No matter what the social or economic environment currently is, it’s important to let donors know what their gift means, not what your goals are. Fundraising is about telling a story and finding a connection with alumni. Mongoose’s recent conversation with Lori Jacobwith, from Ignited Fundraising, extols the benefit of making alumni care about your efforts by making them THEIR efforts.
Crisis is common
The current fundraising dilemma is nothing new. There will often be world events that affect the economy and create problems for campuses and advancement departments. This Chronicle article by Jeffrey A. Schoenherr on stewardship in hard times was written eleven years ago during a crippling recession, and many of the lessons still hold true.
As the situation unfolds, we’ve compiled resources from our partner colleges and universities to find the best ways to stay connected with constituents during COVID-19. Learn more here.