How to Use Crowdfunding to Capture Alumni Donations
Have you considered crowdfunding for your next alumni appeal? If you haven’t, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to raise funds. Crowdfunding was a $30 billion industry last year, with $10 billion of that being raised for social causes. Additionally, your alums increasingly want to donate via mobile apps and in creative ways. Crowdfunding gets you some terrific tools to do all of that. Below, let’s unpack a process for launching a crowdfunding campaign that will rally your alums, get them connected to current students, and create a fun process for all involved.
The thing I love most about crowdfunding is that it provides some cool ways for alumni groups to rep some local pride. For example, your ‘Boston’ alumni group could create its own profile on your campaign page and so could your ‘New York’ chapter. The two cities could then engage in a friendly competition to see which alumni group could raise the most. In order to make this successful, you’ll want to find ‘cheerleaders’ who can spearhead the charge at each alumni group. Chances are, you know who those people are already, so all you really need to do is get them excited for crowdfunding.
Let’s check out an example of this:
That’s a screenshot from a crowdfunding competition run by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Kansas City. As you can see, several Kansas City co-working spaces created teams (as shown by the different tiles on this campaign page) in an effort to see which team could raise the most for the Big Brothers/Big Sisters campaign. Each team had a ‘cheerleader’ – a person who rallied the group and sent out strategic emails and social to get people donating. The WonderWe app makes it possible for teammembers to quickly and easily donate via a smartphone or computer. In the same way, you could have each alumni chapter create a team and then get a friendly competition going across alumni groups. The proceeds would go to your college and WonderWe will make it easy to track which team raises the most money.
Also, have a look at some of the tweets we bounced around to get people’s competitive juices flowing:
By leveraging the power of a competition like this one, you can get your alumni groups engaged in an exciting way while helping to raise funds for your cause.
One of the most important things to bear in mind when crowdfunding is that you need to leverage the power of story. In other words, if you’re wanting to raise money for an annual campaign or some other ongoing project, crowdfunding is probably not the best fit because it’s hard to find one specific story to tell. You want to be able to build a campaign around a story that will rally your alums. For example, crowdfunding campaigns for things like building a new stadium or raising money for a specific scholarship are shown to resonate well with alums. Also, having one specific story makes it much easier to get pictures and video that are associated with what you’re raising the money for.
Check out this fun example:
This was a fun campaign we ran with a humane society in Texas. While I’m sure your campaign won’t involve saving a cat’s life, there are still several lessons here. We shattered our fundraising goal in about 2 hours largely because the campaign focused on one story that people could relate to. The story was relatable, easy for people to share, and relevant to the audience we were targeting. In a similar way, you should center your campaign on a story that is relatable to your alums and easy for them to share.
WonderWe is dedicated to helping you raise awareness and money for your campaign, so there’s no better tool for you to rally your alumni chapters. Here are some of the major reasons:
- We provide the mobile app. Offering a mobile giving option is a proven way to dramatically increase donations. That’s why we did all the work for you and created a handy app that your alumni can use to quickly and easily make donations via their smartphone. Fail to offer them a way to donate via their phones and you’ll miss out on tons of cash. Here’s a screenshot of the app – note that people can easily search we#codes (our version of hashtags) to find and give to their favorite causes:
- We provide the tools for a fun competition. Each alumni chapter can quickly and easily create a team page under your campaign. This page will allow them to add pictures and a story that is unique to their group. It also gives them an easy landing page to direct people to in all of their email blasts, social media, and other communications.
- Rally the troops with a we#code A we#code is essentially our version of a hashtag. It will allow you alumni to easily locate their local team and give to it. For example, your ‘New York Alumni’ could create the we#code: #nyc. Then, anyone wanting to give to that team need only search #nyc on the WonderWe app on their phone. Pretty cool, huh?
- Social sharing is built right in. WonderWe also makes it easy for your alumni to spread the word about the campaign via Facebook and twitter. They can even include a unique link to their team’s page so their friends only contribute to help that alumni chapter raise the most!
Why you don’t want to create your own crowdfunding platform. As I was doing some research for this article, I was shocked to see that some larger universities are actually creating their own platform for crowdfunding, rather than using existing tools. While I see how this would be tempting because you can save on processing fees, the amount of money you might ‘save’ will be more than lost if you don’t have a platform that has tools like social, mobile giving, and competitive crowdfunding. None of the ‘homemade’ crowdfunding platforms I saw had any of these features. WonderWe has already built all the tools you’d need to use crowdfunding effectively and we’re also becoming a recognized name in Christian crowdfunding. By using a platform like ours, you’ll not only benefit from the right tools, you’ll get access to a network that is aligned with your values.
A hidden advantage of alumni crowdfunding campaigns…Turns out that running alumni crowdfunding campaigns can lead to benefits that go beyond a simple fundraiser. For example, some colleges have taken crowdfunding a step further by offering a platform for their alums to support each other’s entrepreneurial efforts. If one alum is looking to start a business, they can create a campaign around it, and then ask other alums to give. What a cool way to get alums interacting with each other! Alums can also support the efforts of current students and vice versa. If you’re looking for a great way to get your alumni involved with current students, this is a great option!
Crowdfunding provides a terrific way to raise funds and create buzz across your alumni network. In this post, I’ve offered you a guide for testing the waters with a crowdfunding campaign – one exciting way to active your alums. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s get a campaign rolling at your college!