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Is Your University Fundraising Campaign Working?

Abby Nieten
December 18, 2018
Min Read

Sometimes, a person’s willingness to give is less about whether they support your organization and more about how convenient it is to give. If they have to spend time fishing around for your website or there’s no way to swipe a credit card in person, they’re more likely to get frustrated and move on.

For university fundraising especially, reaching new graduates and young donors in the channels they feel most comfortable donating is imperative for setting up a pattern of lifelong giving.

Luckily, modern technology makes it easier than ever for people to donate without risking their security or time. Here are a few ways you can make it easier on your university donors, prompting faster and more frequent contributions.

1. Text-to-Give

What’s something everyone has on them at all times? Their phone. Text-to-give campaigns offer the convenience of on-the-go contributions that donors can make whenever they want, while eliminating the need for physical currency. After texting the advertised number with the amount they wish to give, donors receive a webpage link with the amount pre-populated. All they have to do is enter their payment information and submit.

As one of the first successful mobile fundraisers, American Red Cross’s text-to-give campaign for Haiti earthquake relief brought in an unprecedented $500 million back in 2010, just from simple $10 donations sent to a designated short code. Today, there are even more options for mobile giving, but text-to-give programs offer a quick, easy, and memorable gateway to get the process started.

2. Card Swipe

Recent research shows that only 41% of American adults claim to carry cash regularly. Millennials are also more likely than any other generation to deem paying for something by cash as “inconvenient.”

The world is going digital, meaning opportunities for university fundraising must be digital too. Sure, you have a giving website. But what about your annual alumni dinner or other in-person event? Assuming your donors have cash (especially in the denominations you’re hoping for) is a big mistake, and other paper forms like check writing are no longer secure or accepted in many cases.

Mobile card swipers allow you to collect debit or credit donations on the spot, which can be especially well-timed after you’ve wined and dined your donors at a university event. Plus, it’s convenient for both your donor and your organization. All it takes is a swiper device (like Square or PayPal Chip) and its corresponding mobile app. Donors stay happy, there’s no need for collecting or counting, and the funds are secure and quickly accessible.

3. Social Media Campaigns

Who could forget the infamous #icebucketchallenge of 2014? Fueled by competitiveness and low barriers to entry, the Ice Bucket Challenge prompted more than 2.4 million videos on Facebook and $100 million for ALS research. The appeal of social media fundraising is also in reaching people where they already are, coupled with the ability to quickly and easily take them to your online giving site. The trick is coming up with something catchy and worthy of going viral to generate enough donations.

But you can also use social media to promote your university fundraising campaign, even without a buzzworthy marketing strategy. Crowdfunding allows universities to generate support from both friends and strangers with campaigns dedicated to specific initiatives. Potential donors are influenced by the campaign’s popularity among people they know (unlike closed, two-person phone calls for donations), they can see and chart the fundraiser’s progress, and donors can feel more responsible for the initiative’s success.   

4. Mobile Forms

Mobile forms are imperative for successful fundraising campaigns. With more donors today turning to digital giving methods, mobile responsive forms keep viewers from having to pinch and scroll to navigate the donation site. Without responsive capabilities, potential donors are less confident in their gift’s security and success, while becoming increasingly frustrated at haywire formatting that eventually causes them to abandon the form altogether.

Smart forms allow you to collect payments in an easy and convenient way with a user-friendly experience featuring your school’s branding. Plus, you can use mobile-friendly forms for other higher education needs, including student enrollment, instructor evaluations, and tuition assistance.  

Go Digital for Winning University Fundraising Strategies

While traditional university fundraising strategies like telethons and mailer campaigns are still being used to cast a wide net over alumni of varying generations, digital methods are becoming more effective ways to attract younger demographics and reach donors in the channels they already use every day. In this transitional time between old and new, alumni fundraising efforts must turn to modern tools that make giving more convenient for donors.

More than 300 colleges and universities like Harvard, Indiana University, and the University of Michigan use Formstack to exceed enrollment goals, engage with students, and streamline higher education business processes. Get more fundraising form examples and learn how our tailored solutions allow you to accept more donations by clicking below.


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Abby Nieten
As Senior Manager, Content Strategy, Abby leads an amazing team of marketing content creators toward a shared content vision. She's been growing with Formstack since 2015 and spent several years as a professional editor before that.
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