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Universities launch online quizzes to help alumni plan gift allocation

Target giving by honing donor preferences
University Business, January 2017

Many alumni face the same dilemma when they take out their checkbook to give their annual donation to their alma matter: Where do they allocate their donation? Most large universities include multiple colleges not to mention the various scholarships, programs and projects alumni must choose from. An article that highlights the Directed Giving strategy argues that donors typically have three basic questions: Where does my gift go? How will it make a difference? and Why does the school deserve my support? While the second two questions can be difficult to answer quickly and simply, universities can easily address the first. The University of Notre Dame is seeking to eliminate the classic “Where do I allocate my donation?” question through its new Your Notre Dame Donor Journey online quiz. The quiz— accessible from the Annual Giving section within the Supporting Notre Dame microsite—asks potential donors seven multiple choice questions in order to determine which area of support they should donate to. Participants are asked what is their favorite area on campus, Notre Dame song, Notre Dame color, campus dining hall, school mascot, break type (spring, fall or Christmas) and favorite weekend on campus (commencement, parents or football season opener). 

Upon quiz completion, the results page recommends a specific area of support and includes a brief summary of what that particular fund stands for and the type of students it supports. The results page also includes to share the results on Facebook or Twitter. The results page would be improved if the school included a link to that allowed participants to donate straight from the results page. The current navigational set-up forces potential donors to navigate back in order to access a page from which they can actually donate. Placing a donate now link on the results page would allow potential donors to give a donation immediately after completing the quiz. While not complex by any means, the Your Notre Dame Donor Journey quiz is an interactive and engaging tool that helps alumni determine the best destination for their money and stirs school spirit by re-connecting alumni to their favorite aspects of their time at the university.

Ohio State University also released an interactive Hey Buckeye Are You Scarlet or Gray? online quiz accessible from a promotional image within the Giving to OSU microsite. The OSU quiz is not specifically geared towards helping alumni determine where to allocate their donations, but it does appeal to school pride by asking alumni 10 questions to determine their personal embodiment of the primary OSU colors. The quiz asks participants a range of intriguing questions relating to their time at the university and specific preferences. The questions are definitely different; one of them displays an image of Ohio with a number inside it and asks what participants see first, the number or the silhouette of the state, while another asks participants to cover one eye before viewing an image then asks which eye they covered.

The Are You Scarlet or Gray quiz results page displays participants' percentage makeup of scarlet and gray with a brief description of what their score means about their personality and passion for OSU. Participants are encouraged to share their score on Twitter or Facebook. Importantly, the results page includes two Support Your Passion links which both lead to a page of the same name where alumni can begin the online giving process. This clear call to action following the quiz is what the Your Notre Dame Journey quiz results page lacks. Interestingly, while OSU's quiz does not directly address the various destinations for an alumnus' potential donation, the Support Your Passion page lists 10 programs that range from animals or the environment to athletics or faculty and staff. The page clearly lays out where alumni's donation will go in addition to the positive impact donations have on both the school and community.

Michael Ellison is CEO of Corporate Insight

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