Alumni fundraising campaigns are common for University students and alumni associations at college campuses across the country. Alumni fundraising initiatives may be designed to bring in dollars to support development of school projects for the University itself, or to help fund programs for school groups they were involved in such as fraternities, sororities, poetry clubs, political groups, sport teams, and more.
Targeting alumni for fundraising efforts is an excellent idea. The pride one carries from graduating from a higher education institution is considerable, and often alumni have a deep desire to give back to the institution that gave so much to them. After all, the university provided them with experiences, an education and a solid skill-set to earn a living, so alumni are at the top of the list of potential university donors.
Providing alumni with opportunities for recognition can also provide a strong incentive for them to become donors. For example, if a new library is under construction, offer to recognize contributions at a certain level by imprinting their names on a brick used to build the building, or on a Featured Donor Wall. This gives alumni bragging rights and when they come back for Homecoming, they will love seeing they have a place in history of the college or University.
7 Best Alumni Fundraising Event Ideas
Alumni fundraising events can be quite lucrative while providing college faculty and students with an opportunity to network with alumni and build long-lasting relationships and incoming revenue. Alumni fundraising events can be held at the University, especially around class reunions and Homecoming events. For larger Universities, special events can be hosted around the country where you have a large alumni base. For example, there is no reason that a large New England based college can’t host a fundraising golf tournament in San Diego if this allows the fundraising event to be more accessible.
Below are some popular alumni fundraising ideas that have proven to be successful for alumni associations and university groups across the country.
Alumni Networking Luncheon with Guest Speaker
If you intend to target alumni for a specific fundraising project, consider the audience you are targeting, and what is important to them. For example, business school graduates may be interested in attending a monthly luncheon that features an influential speaker discussing recent economic trends or thriving business opportunities. By inviting alumni to attend a luncheon that provides value through knowledge learned from the featured speaker, they might be more inclined to attend. A networking luncheon allows alumni to mingle with fellow alumni and “keep fresh” with what’s going on in the business world. Don’t forget to use your luncheon as an opportunity to promote future fundraising events and initiatives. Perhaps your Networking Luncheon is a recurring monthly event. Hand out invitations with details about next month’s guest speaker and offer on-site registration. Include a link to your website so alumni can make online donations if they are unable to attend the event.
Alumni Walk-a-thon or 5K Run
Alumni organizations and school groups have long favored walk-a-thons, 5K Fun Runs and other similar events where donations and pledges are collected with crowdfunding software. These peer-to-peer fundraising events offer great opportunities for raising money and spreading the word about your organization, without high overhead costs. Alumni can bring family and friends and enjoy the day getting a little exercise and sun. Learn how to organize a walk-a-thon.
Wine and Cheese Tasting Alumni Fundraiser
Hosting a wine tasting fundraiser is a great way to engage alumni in a fun, social event. After all, most people love tasting wines! This makes finding willing alumni and other people to attend the event pretty easy. Decide on an initial format for your wine tasting event. Will it be part of a larger charity gala event or is it a stand-alone fundraiser? Will the wine tasting be an educational event, a blind tasting or a judged show? Will you have a theme and specialize in red wines for Valentine’s Day, summer white wines or champagnes? How will participating vineyards or wine shops have an opportunity to promote their products? Offering online ticket sales with a comfortable entry fee and promotion will make your event revenues soar.
Themed Fundraising Gala Dinner with Silent Auction
Fundraising gala dinners and other fundraising events allow alumni to socialize with one another while financially supporting the university. The premise of a gala event is simple: guests pay a set ticket price to attend a dinner. But galas don’t have to be boring, stuff events. Consider hosting a themed charity gala to increase the fun and funds raised.
When targeting wealthy alumni, you may want to consider a black-tie event with entertainment and a three to five course meal by an acclaimed chef. Contact local wineries or distributors to see if they’d be willing to donate wine to compliment the menu. Consider offering a silent auction as part of your gala event. This group of wealthy alumni has disposable income to spend. If you can bring in one-of-a-kind items for them to bid on, you may be surprised at the results. Consider obtaining signed memorabilia from college athletes who have gone Pro, unique pieces of art from top art and design students, luxury vacation packages, or why not auction off “Naming the New Library” after the alumni with the highest bid?
School Sporting Events
Alumni members actively involved in collegiate sports tend to be some of the most energetic and active members of the University, who are eager to support school fundraising programs. If targeting this group, it makes the most sense to approach them if the funding will benefit athletic programs. The initiative in this case could be building a new stadium or obtaining new sporting equipment. Consider hosting a VIP tent (or section) at a season opening event for donors. Prior to the game, invite alumni to a private party with complimentary food and beverages where they can mingle with fellow alumni, faculty, students and parents. Or host an after party where athletes (and possibly a few professionals who are also school alumni) attend the event and socialize with supporting alumni and donors. For additional revenue, perhaps you’d be interested in hosting a fundraising raffle as part of the event where you sell raffle tickets to win season tickets or even one of a kind vacation travel packages.
Alumni Charity Golf Tournament
A common fundraising event university students host for alumni is a charity golf tournament. Golf tournaments provide a great opportunity for networking and creating long-lasting relationships. If the charity golf tournament is hosted by a group such as a fraternity, consider a golf tournament format such as “Alternate Shot” which is played in two-person teams. Pair up alumni with current frat brothers as kind of a mentorship or brotherly bonding activity. Expand your participation and revenue by inviting parents, local businesses and school faculty. In this scenario you may want to host a “Scramble” tournament, which is played in groups of four. What a great way to bring the campus community closer together with family, local businesses, alumni. Don’t forget to look for additional revenue through sponsorships. Reach out to local businesses on campus to see if they are interested in sponsoring the golf tournament and participating in the event. There are also plenty of ways to raise additional dollars on the course such as: “on-the-course contests”, beverage cart sales, raffle fundraising and more. GolfRegistrations, DoJiggy’s sister site, offers golf tournament websites as well as a complete set of resources for golf tournament planning.
Alumni Online Donation and Sales Campaigns
An alumni association fundraising campaign can consist of contacting previous students by telephone or e-mail and sending a link to an online donation page. Often with a good explanation about the cause of the fundraiser and reasoning behind what their donation will support, alumni may be more willing to write a check or make an online donation than take the time to attend a fundraising event. University alumni associations have been successful launching an Annual Fund. A program such as this allows alumni to sign up for continual yearly donations. An annual fund allows University alumni to feel dedication for continuing to support the school without having to choose which fundraising initiative to invest in or attend fundraising events (if they happen to be too busy or live far away).
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Many alumni groups also add in school spirit gear and sales. With an Alumni eCommerce store as part of your school website software, alumni can buy t-shirts, hoodies, coffee mugs and more to show their school pride and raise money at the same time.
Promoting Your Alumni Fundraiser
Whatever alumni fundraising initiative you decide on, don’t forget to promote the campaign widely. DoJiggy can help with our affordable fundraising websites. College campuses have numerous media outlets including college newspapers, radio stations, and student websites that post announcements about what’s happening on campus. Write a press release explaining the cause that the alumni association fundraiser will support. Media are often very interested in covering a story about alumni fundraising and charity involvement. Invite media to attend your event free of charge — perhaps you can get a post-event write-up that shows photographs of your event along with a link to a donation website for any follow-up online donations. Post announcements on community bulletins, send out emails to friends and group databases, and encourage supporting businesses and volunteers to help spread the word about your alumni fundraiser.
Always keep these points in mind for alumni fundraising campaigns and promotion:
- Different alumni groups should be targeted specifically, based on their interests
- Social Media is a powerful tool, as many alumni are still connected to their former classmates
- Peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns allow your alumni to tap into their group of friends and raise money for the Alma mater
- Alumni value recognition for their gifts – don’t forget to show thanks