Prospective Parents are Prospects Too

Not long after our family celebrated our daughter going away to college did we begin preparing for our son to select his university. A high school junior, he is visiting campuses — parents in tow — to find his match.

While I’m there as a parent, my fundraiser hat never truly comes off (which could probably be considered a hazard of a career in higher education).

And this part of me – the part that believes deeply in the power of generosity – was disappointed at the missed opportunities. At the five different institutions we visited thus far, public and private, not a single one mentioned philanthropy or a parents fund during the admissions office overview or during the campus tour. And an online review of other institutions fared only marginally better.

It’s easy to imagine how those running these programs don’t see how philanthropy fits in. Admissions requirements, student experience, academic programs – these make sense for prospective families. But donating?

However during these campus visits, we discussed study abroad opportunities, scholarships, campus improvements, new majors, and more. And at most campuses, every single one of these programs is fueled by generosity.

Those of us who make our profession in advancement do so because we know that the act of giving makes the extraordinary possible. Generosity gets students to college; exposes them to a broader world; creates student experiences and relationships they’ll carry with them for the rest of their lives; and facilitates deep investigation of our world through research and teaching.

Our role is to bring our pride in this knowledge to every audience we have, and that includes prospective parents and students. Philanthropy is woven into our institution’s being, and we should be honored to carry that message forward and educate at every opportunity.

If you haven’t explored how your institution shares this message with prospective families, now may be the time.

To explore tools to build an all-campus approach to parent giving, contact KDD Philanthropy today.

Image credit: janniswerner via iStock

Senior Class Giving: the Beginning or the End of the Relationship?

As college students are having visions of spring break, many university annual giving offices or student foundations are putting the final touches on their senior class gift campaigns.

These campaigns so often center on ideas like a capstone gift, leaving the university and other language and concepts that represent finality. So while senior class campaigns were created to shift student culture around giving, the very words that we use to inspire our students may actually be sending the opposite message.

While many of these campaigns are quite successful, imagine how they could truly support life-long relationships if more of them embraced a beginning rather than an end.

If we truly want to inspire ongoing philanthropy, shouldn’t we invite these students to become a part of our giving traditions? Wouldn’t we be better served by championing gifts in celebration of joining our alumni ranks and the donor family? What if rather than using past senior class gifts alone as role models, we demonstrated the power of young alumni giving?

These messages aren’t exclusive of the successful tools of celebrating the student experience and paying tribute to their memories. They are, however, an opportunity to lay the groundwork for the beginning of a long and rich alumni relationship.

How could a fresh approach to your senior class giving campaigns bring about buy-in for the tradition of a lifetime of philanthropy? How could a change in language invite, educate and inspire our students to join our giving families for the long term?

Need help strengthening your fundraising infrastructure? KDD Philanthropy can assist your university through consultations, individual coaching calls and workshops. Send us a message to discuss how we can help.