- Tue, September 04 2007
- Filed under: Fundraising essentials
The Washington Post today reports that “exacting donors are reshaping college giving.” The article cites a new generation of college donors that are “savvy, activist and willing to stop giving if they don’t like the way their money is being used.”
Alumni now are far more likely to give to specific projects rather than the operating funds that keep universities running and to expect detailed reports on how the money is spent. Some ask to meet the students who win the scholarships, select the professors who get the chair, scrutinize financial reports, weigh competing construction bids, choose the paintings for the gallery walls.
I agree, but this is not news, and this desire for involvement doesn’t just apply to academia. Donors usually give because they are emotionally involved, and with those feelings comes a desire for:
-Personal attachment to a cause
-Tangible, clear results because of their support
-A sense something changed for the better because of them - that they left a good mark
Alumni want their money to go to what they love (or loved) about their alma mater. People feel deeply emotional about their colleges and universities (just look in the stands at a home game), and they have very clear ideas about how those places should remain or change. Anyone working for a college or university should see this as a positive, not a negative, and communicate accordingly.
And this goes for the rest of us, too. People ultimately will give when they feel something for our cause. We should return the love with the care we would give to any valued relationship. Honor the attachment. Show its effect. Make it stronger. And share how it’s made you better. It works with your significant other, and it works with your donors, too.