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Donors & Dollars

Can gender-specific campaigns boost fundraising?

Report: Female graduates receive fewer solicitations for donations
University Business, August 2016

Can gender-specific campaigns boost fundraising?

Female graduates receive fewer solicitations for donations, and they give at a lower rate than do their male counterparts, according to the “Alumni Engagement and Giving” survey by Alumni Monitor, a higher education consulting service that tracks active alumni accounts across more than 50 colleges and universities.

The way schools employ technology to track and communicate with alumni causes the discrepancy, in part. Married women who have changed their names can be harder to track down.

And different solicitation approaches are more effective depending on gender, the survey shows. For instance, men respond more frequently to a direct request, such as a phone call or face-to-face solicitation, whereas women tend to prefer emails, letters and other more indirect approaches.

Sixty percent of women say they can’t afford to donate (versus 48 percent of men) and 29 percent (versus 23 percent of men) say they give to causes they deem more worthy than their alma maters, says Michael Ellison, president of Alumni Monitor. “Universities need to connect with women more around those issues.”

Ellison suggests that messages and approaches be tailored by gender, and with the advances in digital tracking platforms, it is increasingly easier to do. The amount an institution is willing to invest in technology is often the driving factor.

“A board of trustees can make the case that more needs to be done to connect with alumni, both men and women, and that their differences be treated specifically,” says Ellison. “One message is not going to fit everybody, and the beauty of technology is that one message doesn’t have to.”

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