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Social media campaigns engage donors

Also popular are social media-based days of giving and crowdfunding events
University Business, July 2015

When it comes to fundraising, most colleges and universities surveyed (59 percent) boost their effort through social media.

Also popular are social media-based days of giving and crowdfunding events. Of the 42 percent that held a day of giving, more than one-third raised over $50,000 that day. And of the 15 percent that crowdfunded, half earned more than $10,000 per year.

The data comes from a 2015 social media survey released jointly in April by CASE, Huron Consulting Group and higher ed marketing firm mStoner. The survey found social media campaigns are more likely to be successful when campus fundraising professionals have goals and measure outcomes.

Fundraising events go hand-in-hand with social media, says Jennifer Mack, senior managing researcher at Huron. Many different alumni groups can be notified through a variety of mediums. “Instead of just reaching out to big donors, a day of giving can gain momentum from a broader, younger base,” she says.

To improve online fundraising campaigns, 34 percent of those surveyed say they calculate engagement scores for alumni and donors.

Though it’s easy to see success in the amount of dollars raised, it’s also important for colleges and universities to measure what kinds of alumni are contributing to that success and how, says Michael Stoner, president of mStoner.

The measurement of engagement scores can vary based on an institution’s needs, but can be as simple as tracking who makes a small donation online and who attends higher-profile events. “You want to get a robust picture of what types of people are interested in different ways of giving,” Stoner says.

At the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut, Director of Alumni Relations Aimee Marcella says understanding engagement through data is key in her decision-making, whether it’s promoting a day of giving or an app especially made for homecoming festivities. With the ability to create different Facebook groups—e.g., for athletics, Greek Life and other organizations—and track data on demographics and interests, she sees the platform as a cost-effective tool.

“We often use paid promotional posts on Facebook, which allow us to see the response from alumni by region, gender and age,” Marcella says. “It’s a great way to put new ideas out there and see what sticks.”

More findings from the report can be found at http://UBmag.me/smreport.

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