Higher education donors can give for a variety of reasons, but research shows that there are some common types of projects that motivate them more than others.
While your advancement team should focus on creating overall impact for your school, it can be useful to know the areas that are likely to get constituents engaged.
Here, we look at the four main areas that higher educations love to contribute towards:
Whether it’s an old group of classrooms, an ignored outdoor space, or outdated equipment, almost any school campus has lots of room for improvement.
Donors love to give to tangible projects and address pain points that they understand. That makes various types of campus updates a perfect cause for former students to get behind.
Projects like these are easy for alumni to relate to, and let them feel pride in alleviating problems for future students that they experienced themselves.
Most alumni and their families know the plight of making tuition payments. Frequently, they find it inspiring to help future students reduce that burden.
Scholarship funds are also great opportunities to encourage recurring giving. Because funds would need to be given out on a yearly basis, many donors will see the benefit in having their contribution repeat. Even if someone doesn’t sign up for a recurring gift, it gives your advancement team a clear reason to request a donation again down the road.
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Naming and sponsorship opportunities
Many of your donors – especially alumni – feel a great sense of connection to your school. Very often, the chance to have their name involved in campus activities is incredibly motivating.
Scholarships can work great in this regard, especially with major donors. For example, they can make a large donation to create a scholarship in their name. This scholarship can go towards paying some or all of the tuition for one or more students. They can also provide you the criteria for whom they would like to receive the gift, such as students from a particular background or in a specific program.
Similarly, campus projects and renovations can offer the same benefit. Very large donors can contribute enough to have a classroom, lobby, park, or other area named after them. Smaller donors can participate in this way as well. For example, many schools will create a plaque that lists everyone who gave to a certain project. In other cases, schools will name individual seats in renovated classrooms after those who contributed.
Projects that help your higher education institution’s reputation have a dual benefit to alumni donors.
Of course, contributing to these projects – such as international investment, research initiatives, or marketing campaigns – is a great way to give back to the school. They can have long-lasting impact on students and professors for years to come.
But they also serve to indirectly benefit the alumni who give. The more improvements a school’s reputation sees through projects like those above, the better alumni will fare in the job market and the more pride they will feel in their degree.