By Drew Fox Jordan • February 18, 2021

    Gravyty at CASE All Districts: Our Favorite Sessions From Day 2

    We know you can't attend every session, so for this year’s CASE All Districts Conference, Gravyty is providing you with some recaps from sessions you couldn't make it to for you to get caught up.

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    Here are the sessions the Gravyty team has enjoyed so far:

    Bridging Scholarship and Practice – What we can learn from Philanthropy Research

    What can we learn from academic research on donor motivation? A deeper understanding of our donor’s motivation can inform how we as an institution create engagement, communication, and partnership. This session will present four recent academic studies on donor motivation, interpreted by two Scholar-Practitioners. The presentation will include actionable steps for participants by bridging theory and practice. After presenting a broader framework on donor motivation, we will illustrate the breadth and depth of the research on donor motivation in four unique segments: donor motivation for giving to athletics, LGBTQIA+, bequest donations, and major and mega gifts.

    Donor motivation is highly researched. Why do donors do what they do? There are eight mechanisms of donor giving: Awareness of need, solicitation, costs and benefits, altruism, reputation of donor, psychological benefits, values, and efficacy. This session included  motivations for giving to athletics (feeling like part of the winning team), LGBTQ philanthropy (social uplift, justice motivation-desire to right a wrong, wanting to make a difference) bequest giving (felt they they were important), and understanding motivations of mega-gift donors to higher ed (altruism, legacy, reciprocity, desire to have impact). How do you build a strategy based off these needs? Ask donors compelling questions, look at past giving, talk about why they are motivated. This can shape better communication.

    The Science of Including Faculty in Your Alumni Engagement Events

    “Lifelong Learning” has long been a buzzword in Alumni Relations. We know there is power in leveraging faculty members to reengage graduates, but it’s not always an easy – or realistic – feat. This session will explore how Butler’s Alumni Relations department teamed up with two chemistry professors to organize and execute the popular “Science of” event series, a program which took home CASE V Gold Awards in two categories in 2019.

    The key here is to keep things broad and fun with faculty who are openly willing to engage with alumni. Also, it is a great idea to run these events with small businesses/topics that alumni own or are associated with. Think about location, tech, and layout of the event so that it is more of a classroom setting, as opposed to lecture hall. From the session: “For virtual events, we did very much what we do for our students. I engaged the alumni in the same kind of way that I would engage my class. I recorded a pre-event video, and then we all met on Zoom to discuss.”

    Metrics for Success: Creating a University-Wide Stewardship Plan

    Stewardship is key to nurturing and growing relationships with donors and has a direct impact on future giving. How do we know if we are successfully stewarding donors throughout the University? What are the integral measurements to assess donor stewardship efforts? How do we quantify successful stewardship for our institution? Which metrics matter most and how do we track them? Presenters will share Penn State’s process for creating and implementing a University-wide stewardship plan, key metrics for success, and how the plan guides foundational stewardship at the unit level.

    The stewardship process depends upon who your constituents are, how you are measuring their participation, and what their expectations are. There are also internal stewardship metrics that are incredibly important to operating a successful development program.

    Seven Commitments to Highly Effective Data Management

    The pandemic taught us the importance of hygiene/cleansing for our overall health and well-being. The same applies to our data.  This session will discuss how to apply the seven commitments of effective data management (Teaching and Training, Data standardization and governance, Alignment and partnerships, Regular data audits, Data enrichment, Digitization, and Automation) regardless of the size of the institution.  Attendees will learn how to prioritize and enhance data hygiene, learn how to identify opportunities for process efficiencies, and learn the importance of data governance, training, and compliance.

    The big takeaway from this session was the need to have forward thinking. By “Cross Training” by team and “Alignment” by department you can avoid problems when the unexpected happens. For example, when one of your team members leave or is unexpectedly out of the office, be sure that you are always able to cover their work. If there is a major project in the works like a campaign mailing, be sure that the data side is onboard for needs of timing for reports and data entry.

    Advancement Services: Ask the Experts

    Join this panel of experts to gain their insight on your toughest Advancement Services challenges.  With more than a century of combined experience, if they don’t have the answer – they will know where to find it!

    There have been lots of changes in the industry, especially with diversity. Fundraising remains process-oriented, but needed to adapt and focus on doing business in ways not done before. There was also a call for data exchange with niche tools. Leaning into technology helps us get much more analytic and targeted in addressing donors.

    Building a Digital Gift Officer Program

    The rise of the digital gift officers has been underway before the pandemic and the emphasis on digital engagement. Gift officers who work with mid-level donors are confronted with the dilemma of scale. The portfolio-based approach that is so successful for major gift officers falls short of addressing the challenges and opportunities leadership level gift officers face working with substantially larger pools of donors. The digital gift officer is creating new pathways to personal communication and relationship building among our mid-level donors as well as improving what we know and how we respond to donor needs and preferences.

    Custom solicitations towards your mid-level donors are great, BUT, these communications can be expensive. The focus needs to be on the mid-level donors. Many orgs have been on leadership giving development programs to move mid-level donors through the pipeline. Retention is the north-star of mid-level donor programs. When designing these programs, high retention must be top of mind as digital engagement allows more outreach in a customized fashion. 

    Fundraising for Financial Access: A Fresh Formula to Inspire Urgency in Your Campaign

    As educators commit to integral diversity, equity, and inclusion work, institutions commit to providing financial access never before available. But common fundraising mistakes like focusing on the need rather than the urgency and not thinking deeply about what will inspire donors results in missed opportunities. A panel will share case studies from San Francisco Day School, Stanford Humanities Center, and Georgetown Preparatory School—all of which prioritized diversity, equity, and inclusion in their campaigns—demonstrating strategies that achieved their goals through disciplined use of a powerful communications strategy. Learn how to stoke donor support that gets this critical work accomplished.

    Strategies for running a successful campaign include 3 basic ideas. First, get to know your campaign stakeholders. These aren’t ALL donors, but the people you need for your campaign to succeed. Second, link institutional values to stakeholder values. It’s easy to be wrapped up in organizational goals without actually engaging donors in what they care about. Finally, ensure the campaign communicates with urgency, emotion, and rationale. Ask the question “If we don’t meet our goals, then what will happen?” Then keep asking that. Eventually, you’ll get to the core “why”.

    Pitch 2.0: The Next Generation How Augusta University Cut Through the Noise

    Augusta University turned 11 media releases into 113 media hits — including mentions in top outlets such as MSN and PBS — all through pitching their experts the right way. With 96% of pitches never placed and increasing difficulty getting media attention, AU leveraged technology to take their pitches to the next level by focusing on go-to faculty experts offering unique angles on timely news topics. AU has been monitoring the success of this program and will share the data and what they’ve learned during this session, including how they kept the momentum going throughout the pandemic.

    This session covered media strategies Augusta University used to get their name into the public sphere, including leveraging “rockstar” faculty for media appearances (research, relevant expertise). Cutting through the noise- “crossing the coverage, capacity, and creativity gap.” The big takeaway for me was utilizing and maximizing the resources they already had to create buzz around the university.

    Advancing Engagement: A Model for Portfolios for Alumni Engagement Professionals 

    Alumni Relations plays a meaningful role in identifying, engaging, soliciting and stewarding donors to our institutions. Learn about the Michigan State University Alumni Office's migration to portfolios for Alumni Engagement Directors and the positive influences portfolios are having on time management, focused outreach, diversity & inclusion efforts, organizational collaboration, data collection and fundraising.

    For Michigan State University, portfolio size for engagement officers is around 50. They have many other duties, so they are trying to keep it manageable for the fundraiser. Selecting which donors to put in portfolios is tough, but they are seeing great return in taking the time to ensure the right people are being contacted by moving relationships forward and moving them up to major gift officers. They recognize value in disqualification here as well.

    What sessions are you attending this year? Connect with the Gravyty team and let us know what you have learned at #CASEalldistricts this year!

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