The Hilarious Things College Presidents Do While Their Students Are Away (VIDEO)

Welcome to 2014! I hope that everyone is in the midst of closing the books of a successful calendar-year end. I’m not really a New Year’s resolution type of person but were I have one, it would be to post more consistently.

Just as I am sure we are all easing back into our lives now that the holidays are over, I’m easing back into posting. I’m not going to tell you how to evaluate your CYE results or how to turn January into something other than a very slow fundraising month, I’m just going to share a video.

I stumbled across this student-focused holiday video on the Huffington Post, and I love it and thought it worth sharing. I really enjoy seeing a president of a university being so accessible and lighthearted. The video is funny, endearing, and just the right amount of silly. If I may suggest a presidential resolution for 2014, it would be to do more videos like this!

Happy New Year and Enjoy!

The Hilarious Things College Presidents Do While Their Students Are Away (VIDEO).



A Powerful Video Campaign

ImageTake a minute to watch this great video that was put out by Water is Life. 

Key takeaways when you’re thinking about creating a video campaign.

1) Identify a theme.
2) Choose impactful images.
3) Keep it short.
4) Make the ask.

The only issue I see is that it should be easier to make a gift but from the perspective of a powerful campaign, this is one of the best I’ve seen in a while.


What’s your GCR?

“My what?” you ask. It’s your online Giving Completion Rate. It’s the percentage of visits to your online giving form that turn into gifts.

Why is this important? Because all of your efforts—from developing the greatest direct mail pieces to telling impact-of-gift stories on your website to engaging your community in conversations on social media sites—don’t matter if your form is cumbersome and hard to complete. By turning ease of use into a metric, you’ll have a data point when you’re negotiating for more resources in this area.

You want online giving to look like this:                                      Not like this:

Happy                                                                                   Confused

In addition to tracking your GCR, here are some questions that you should be asking yourself about your giving form.

1)      Do you have a version of your form designed for mobile viewing?

This needs to be moved the top of your list of priorities. With half of Americans using smartphones (and this is on the rise), you can’t afford to skip this step. A mobile version of your website and giving form is no longer innovative; it’s the cost of doing business.

2)      Are you asking for unnecessary information?

Believe me, I understand the inclination to ask for a bunch of additional information since you’ve “already got them.” The problem? You don’t have them until they complete the transaction. So, hold off on asking them about their favorite memory of campus; who their favorite professor was; and why they chose to make a gift until the transaction is complete. Consider including a link to a survey on the splash page once the gift is completed and in your confirmation email.

3)      Is the experience seamless?

If you’ve got to send your donors to another site to enter credit card information or if the page refreshes every time you enter information, or any other such thing, chances are you’re losing people mid-gift. An important part of being seamless is ensuring that your form is fully functional on all web browsers too. This may seem like an easy one…but believe me, all of these things happen.

At the end of the day, your giving form needs to be one thing: Easy! So, track your GCR, ask yourself these questions, and make a plan for improving the donor experience at your organization.

For great ideas about how to boost your online giving, check out my colleague’s blog, The Social Side of Giving.


5 Things: The Partnership Between Annual Giving and Alumni Relations

In this edition of 5 Things, you’ll get some ideas on how you and your alumni counterparts can work together to further the goals of both programs.

How do you work together? Please share other ways that you’ve worked with your partners is the alumni office.

P.S. My colleagues at have some ideas too!


Will you be joining #GivingTuesday?

According to a recent article in the Chronicle of Philanthropy, more than 400 organizations have committed to joining #GivingTuesday. The aim is to turn the Tuesday after Thanksgiving into a day of giving–every year.

It’s an interesting idea, and one that I hope catches on.

Will you try it at your organization?

Learn More:

5 Things: Student Giving

1) Make sure that in addition to asking for gifts from students, you are focusing on educating all students about the importance of philanthropy.

2) Don’t use “trick” gifts—that’s when you charge for entrance to an event or for a premium (or the like) and tack on a $1 “gift” to the price.

3) Identify a small group of students to focus on stewardship—they should send an email to every student donor and come up with fun ways to thank student donors on campus.

4) Partner with your alumni career services colleagues to provide programming that is co-branded with your student philanthropy efforts and that gives students access to alumni for networking.

5) Make sure that the key metric that you’re measuring when determining the success of your program is retention in the first-year out from graduation.

Thanks for all of the recent ideas for 5 Things topics! Keep the great ideas coming, and I’ll be sure cover them in a post.

Have a great weekend everyone!