News and updates from the USM Office of Advancement Research
Letter from the Director
Welcome to July’s Fundraising Talks. The Supreme Court’s ruling on affirmative action has drawn attention from everyone around the nation, especially as it impacts many higher education institutions. Even though the decision primarily affects the admission process, institutions should begin to comprehensively evaluate how it might further affect other departments including advancement offices. Some questions to consider include how the decision may impact fundraising strategies for engagement of potential donors, the impact on alumni relations, and the decision making processes of grant makers.
“Can Donors Still Support Race-Conscious Programs? Supreme Court Ruling Leaves College Fundraisers in Uncharted Territory,” an article from the Chronicle of Philanthropy, states that it will be important to “review scholarship programs and donor agreements that have race-conscious elements.” This is just one factor that must be looked at while assessing the impact of the Supreme Court’s ruling. Development professionals at all levels that assist with fundraising should be trained to use data wisely and to have challenging conversations with donors to mitigate any potential risks. Grantmakers and higher education institutions are responding by issuing statements confirming their responsibility to continue to support diversity, equity, and inclusion in their communities. Leaders from some of the big foundations, including Ford and James Irvine, wrote in an open letter about the importance of “trust-based philanthropy,” which involves sharing power between grant makers, grantees, and the communities they serve. We will continue to watch the latest policies that might impact higher education philanthropy.
Last month we briefly talked about performing data projects during the summer. The Chronicle of Philanthropy recently published an article on how data impacts fundraising and how data can help nonprofits bring in more donations. Many pieces of data are often overlooked and underutilized when organizations are trying to make informed decisions. First, institutions need to identify the pieces of data that they need to collect, store and manage. Once data is stored in your customer relationship management (CRM) database, steps should be taken to ensure that data is maintained well by implementing processes to regularly update inaccurate and unnecessary information. As we mentioned in June’s Fundraising Talks, advancement professionals should continue to invest in processes and technology to ensure quality data and know how to use available data. It is also equally important to have colleagues and internal departments interact constructively and understand the value of data and how it can lead to success. The Chronicle of Philanthropy article talks about how a professor helped an institution find its best prospects. Email data, including open rates on communications and the number of clicks on links in emails, was analyzed to find 20 new prospects. From the 20 names, further analysis was performed using wealth screening to identify those who had capacity to give. This simple exercise resulted in five good prospects and one major gift at the end, thus demonstrating the value of data and analytics in successful fundraising.
Moving forward, I hope fundraising continues to grow and adapt technologies to bridge gaps in data and utilize analytics to create meaningful strategies. As always, please feel free to reach out to us with questions, comments, or any assistance with fundraising research!
Sapna and USM Advancement Research Team
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