As summer begins, universities and colleges around the nation are planning for the reopening of their campuses in the fall. During this time of COVID-19, it was impressive to see institutions functioning creatively to provide educational services to their students. We observed with much pride and excitement how higher education institutions successfully altered their plans for traditional commencement ceremonies and adopted innovative virtual commencement ceremonies to celebrate the success of class of 2020. All of this shows how resilient we remain despite the challenges of the times.
In the past several weeks, there has been an influx of online and digital platforms that are being used for the delivery of services. The use of technology has enabled advancement staff to function seamlessly from remote locations. Nonprofits are using technology for donor engagement and to provide services to different constituents. Fundraisers are using technology resourcefully to reach out to donors and raise money during COVID-19 by means of video-calls and social media to engage donors. According to a recent blog post by Bloomerang.com, nonprofits that “reached out to donors personally (phone, email, text, in-person) in March and April 2020 saw significant year-over-year increases in revenue compared to those [that] didn’t.” As we await a new period of normalcy, development staff should partner with prospect research professionals to verify and qualify information on constituents in existing portfolios, as well as to identify and add new prospects to portfolios for moves management. Research can also be used to create and validate fundraising strategies. This would be the time to update donor and prospect information in your CRM as you continue to reach out to your constituents. It is also extremely important for development professionals to accurately add contact reports in your CRM to capture meaningful connections with your constituents.
A recent special report from Marts & Lundy provides great insights on “the impact of COVID-19 on development staff metrics.” A total of 200 institutions participated in the surveys from three sectors – higher education, independent schools and health care. According to the survey, half of higher education institutions are adjusting FY20 gift officer metrics, while there is some uncertainty among higher education institutions about FY21 metrics. Some of the new metrics that institutions have implemented during COVID-19, include “counting meaningful contacts instead of visits, conducting portfolio reviews/cleanup, and/or stewarding major gift prospects.” Alumni relations and donor events are also changing by “pivoting to virtual engagement due to the pandemic.” Some of the new alumni engagement metrics include counting “number of viewers/participants, duration of participation, open rates of video messages, etc.” It is quite exciting to see how well development teams are adapting to address current needs and new goals, as the landscape of higher education philanthropy is continuing to evolve.
I hope we can roll with the changes and use this opportunity to make the future better and brighter with the many resources we have available. As always, please feel free to reach out to us with questions, comments or any assistance with prospect research!
Sapna and USM Advancement Research Team
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