One of the main reasons why institutions focus on developing alumni networks is to promote alumni giving/donations. In order to achieve this, it is important to create the right kind of alumni relationships and networks that facilitate alumni giving.
An effective method is to understand alumni giving statistics, and optimize your membership program to match current trends.
In this guide, we’ll take a look at how alumni giving works, what some of the biggest alumni giving trends are, and how institutions can optimize their alumni programs to achieve better results.
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What is Alumni Giving?
Alumni giving, or alumni participation, refers to the percentage of an institution’s alumni that make an annual financial contribution to their alma mater. Alumni giving is one of the key metrics used to measure alumni satisfaction. It’s also one of the main goals, or KPIs, of alumni programs.
Alumni donations are one of the main reasons why institutions set up alumni programs in the first place. And with the right alumni engagement strategies, the donations alumni make can form a significant part of any institution’s annual revenue.
Measuring alumni giving doesn’t necessarily have to be counted on a financial basis. Because it’s measured as a percentage, alumni giving can be based on the level of participation.
For example, a donation of $50 could be recognized in the same light as a donation of $500 if you are purely focused on engagement. With many alumni giving statistics, having engaged alumni that are actively participating may be more important to measure than the amount they are giving.
Although, securing higher donations is of course important. For this to happen, institutions will need to engage with their alumni in the right way.
Why is Alumni Giving So Important?
Institutions need resources in order to provide a quality experience, and resources are made available through funding. One of the best ways that institutions can access funding is through their dedicated supporters. This is where having an engaged and active alumni community is important.
For colleges and universities, alumni giving helps to fund various important projects and areas of operation. These typically include the general operating budget, scholarships, unique alumni programs, and campus renovations.
In order for institutions to be able to offer something special, beyond their standard annual budget, they often rely on alumni donations.
Important Alumni Giving Statistics
There’s a fair amount of strategic thinking that is involved in attracting and maintaining alumni giving. This is why it’s important to understand the data and trends around alumni giving.
Here are a few important statistics for institutions to be aware of:
- Alumni fundraising rates are starting to drop. According to a recent study, donations and giving growth are slowing down significantly. The study reveals how many universities rely on fewer larger donations. We will explore more solutions to improve alumni giving further on.
- Alumni giving is closely related to how the stock market is performing. According to the annual report from the nonprofit Council for Aid to Education, there seems to be a correlation between stock market performance and alumni donations. For example, when the markets were doing well in 2017, alumni giving increased by 14.5%.
- Since the Tax Cuts and Job Act passed in the US, there are fewer taxpayer benefits for making charitable donations. With fewer benefits comes fewer alumni donations. In the UK, charitable donations have also dropped since the pandemic, with university fundraising declining by 17%.
- 93% of alumni organizations do not offer any benefits to their alumni, or they don’t see any worthwhile engagement from the benefits that they do offer.
- 75% of alumni have said that they would increase engagement with their institution if they made their information benefits mobile-friendly.
- 74% of alumni donors appreciate personal thank you recognition for their donations or membership.
- 78% of alumni want to be able to access their alumni benefits online, while 22% prefer benefits sent by mail.
- As per an article in the Washington Post, encouraging fresh alumni to start developing giving habits early is important. This helps alumni to build giving relationships early on, which can result in many years of benefits for the institution. This is also enhanced by the fact that young people’s spending power is increasing, thus institutions shouldn’t only look towards their older donors.
- 67% of wealthy donors have said that their biggest challenge around donations is finding the right cause to support. For institutions that want to attract more alumni giving, this means they should focus on highlighting the importance of their cause.
How to Improve Alumni Giving
Looking at the alumni giving statistics above provides institutions with some valuable insights. It’s important to understand this data and how it relates to your alumni engagement strategy.
To attract more donors, institutions should be using the right alumni engagement platform. This platform should provide easily-accessible online benefits. As an institution, you should also make the most of this tool to share valuable content, attract attendees for events, and ensure that the overall mission of your institution is made clear.
This will give alumni members more reason to show their support.
If your institution is looking to improve alumni giving, you should also focus on expanding your alumni network, as well as develop relationships with your known alumni donors.
This is especially important as institutions need to attract younger donors and build relationships with fresh alumni. Besides encouraging younger alumni to donate, you should also concentrate on building relationships with them and get them actively involved in their alumni membership program.
With the right strategies and online platform, your institution can optimize its alumni relationships, giving capacity and increase overall engagement. This is essential for improving and expanding alumni giving.
Realize the current alumni giving trends and understand how your institution can respond to them. This is necessary for creating a sustainable alumni network.