Friend Raising For Dollars: Applying Metrics to Alumni Programs - Case V - December 2009


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Quantifying the results of an alumni program can be a challenge. How do you know you are drawing the alumni who will most likely be tomorrow's donor? This session will explore applying consumer marketing principles to every program from cocktail parties to reunions Learn how to benchmark against your own institution to identify areas of growth and opportunity that will give you the greatest return on investment that will eventually add to the bottom line.

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  • I did a little research on what is out there before pulling together this information, and I only found response rates and basic statistical data.So you calculate your response rate?How do you know if your program is effective? How do you know if you are drawing the right people?How do you know if you are delivering the right message?I suppose you could look at the bottom line: are you meeting your fundraising goals. But how do you measure the effectiveness of each component of your program?There really is no scientific way to measure the effectiveness of a reception, or an tour, or a reunion because these programs are all about emotional engagement? – or at least that I have found?So how do you measure the effectiveness of a cocktail?
  • How do you assess the current situation? CASE suggests number of alumni, the number of events, the headcount at events. Very basic stuff.But you probably have a sophisticated data operation that is helping you to learn about your major donors? Why not apply that to your alumni programming efforts
  • 2004 Alford Group SurveyAttitudinal survey will help drive the direction of your programming efforts. By learning that our alumni are proud of their experience, we no longer had to develop initiatives that encourage them to be proud, rather they can draw out those feelings that already exist.In addition to learning our alumni have pride in our institution, we learned a number of other thingsOur alumni read everything we send themThey have no idea whether or not we need their helpThey have no opinion as to whether or not Lake Forest College is managed wellThey want to volunteer to help the collegeThe volunteer experiences we have are some of the most dissatisfying experiencesWe partner with our marketing and communications office to address the lack of knowledge issues, and have put the technology in place to integrate e-mail and web communications fully into our programming effortsThis allows us to communicate in ways we’ve never done beforeBut the area we have direct control over: the volunteer experienceWe’ve partnered with the alumni board to helpCreate training programsImprove communicationProvide feedback and expectations
  • Gave us a great excuse to reinvent ourselves from an alumni programming perspective:Excuse to turn up the volume on our programming effortsBy creating higher expectations of ourselves and our alumniCelebrate our past, acknowledge our present, and contemplate our futurePreparing for this opportunity helped us to set the groundwork in place to establish a more strategic programming initiative.Establish a solid baseline.We essentially built on the survey information to help guide our sesquicentennial programs.
  • Have you ever thought to use your data screening to focus your alumni programs?We get some powerful codes from our data screening.
  • And we apply this screening to our fundraising programs.Because the codes take into account giving history, they help us to identify in our fundraising strategies the areas for greatest growth and opportunityCodes are conservative, but this informed us that if everyone coded in the 5,000+ category gave $5,000, we would raise $1.2 million.If everyone in the $500-$1000 category gave $500, we would raise almost $1 million.So rather than focus our energies on 13,000 solicitable alumni, we now are creating unique initiatives for an exclusive pool of 250 alumni with the $5,000+ initiative, and a new focus in our mass market initiatives for 2,025 alumni who fall in the $500 to $1000.
  • Part of the screening process assigned a code to assign every to a lifestage segment.We can use the lifestage segment to narrow the focus of our alumni programming efforts.
  • We have the greatest chance of donor conversion and upgrade in our primary market.
  • So we know what segment we are now looking for. How do we know if they are turning out?
  • Family-FriendlyCaged tailgating, checking IDs and wrist-bands, vehicle pre-registrationAdded a family carnival and goodie bags for childrenModified menus with more finger foodsStudent EmphasisParade is a “service” students provide for children of alumniAlternative Friday Evening ProgrammingMoney MessageCommunity Focus“Bring your entire family”Academic FocusAcademic element – After all, we are academicCommunal experience – Something that brings us together, and in that sense, there is a something for everyone.Sports element – Homecoming has its roots in sportsTraditional element – alumni awards, athletic hall of fame
  • Backend Data is really about establishing a baseline. Front-end helps inform your programming decisions, and you can revisit that from time to time. RDI – don’t need to do it for every event. Couldn’t do it for every event as you’d be all over.Backend Date helps you prove the effectiveness of your program.Gives you information to fine tune your efforts.Helps you to justify your programs, or build support from other departments.Athletic Department – Our overall giving participation rate is 30%. But when we look at individual sports, we are between 10% and 15%. Our athletes are giving at 1/3 to half the rate of the overall alumni population.This data is helping us to modify the way our athletic department is approaching their programming – both while students are here, and how they approach the alumni efforts.Without the data to support this, we could never begin to sway the power tower that is Athletics.
  • One of the most powerful uses of back-end data is to benchmark yourself.Alumni programs are not like student-faculty ratio or endowment per student.
  • Measure what is important to you.
  • For us, late 70s and early 80s, we need a higher level of engagement now.1990s, we want a higher level of engagement because these people are determining their philanthropic interest.For us, this is an important measure.
  • Wanted to look at the relationship between giving and attendance. Again, looking for trends to help inform our programs.Did not know what we would find, but we discovered that basically 1 out of 2 of our attendees to our regional events is a donor.And, we found that as we increased our alumni attendance, the trends as far as attendees making new or increased gifts, no change, and decreasing – all are relatively the same.Now the thing to keep in mind with percentages, when you’re talking about small numbers (which at Lake Forest we almost always are), sometimes a few people or one event can create a statistical anomaly.If we recall the class year slide, the bulk of attendees at our events are young, and we all know their giving can be volatile until their lives and patterns are established.Again, we’re not looking for absolutes, just trends to help inform us.The story that this slide told us was that one out of two guests are donors. And three out of four donors either increase their gift, make a new gift, or don’t change their gift. What this said to us is that we have a room of donors.As such, what greater opportunity to engage them emotionally in a manner that reinforces the money they donate is a wise investment. So we changed our talking points, and began coaching our volunteers differently on this.
  • The relationship between gift performance and event attendance. In this chart, we took out gifts over $5000, which is primarily our trustee pool. A few trustees at an event can really create chaos when trying to figure out mass market measures.No real surprises here – a person who attends more events over time has a higher average gift. Whether it’s the event that drives that, or the donation that drives event attendance, we’re not sure.But the average gift between an attendee who has been to four events and five events is a pretty significant jump.So one of the things we are exploring with this data is waiving registration fees for Homecoming for any person who has been to more four events over a five-year period. Will it bump their giving up? Who knows? Will it hurt? Will we really miss the registration fee of fifty people – 50 people who might not have come to Homecoming anyway?
  • Taking that idea, we were hoping for a magic number here – that if you went to three events, you were more likely to be an annual donor.Unfortunately, no such truths were revealed.But, there is a clear coloration between event frequency and gift frequency.
  • Sharing your data can help motivate and build your program.
  • What is interesting here is that the volunteers who have a higher level of hand-holding from the staff at the College, perform at higher levels.
  • The best measures are sometimes the simplest. You don’t need to really overthink this, but just come up with a way that you can measure a program and stick with it.There is no real secret, and it’s often just a simple math equation.
  • Friend Raising For Dollars: Applying Metrics to Alumni Programs - Case V - December 2009

    1. 1. Friend-raising for Dollars: Applying Metrics toAlumni Programming<br />CASE V<br />December 14, 2009<br />Timothy State ’93<br />Associate Vice President of Alumni Programs<br />Lake Forest College<br /><br />847-735-6022<br />
    2. 2. Questions?<br />What are some of the ways you are currently measuring your results?<br />Who do you benchmark against?<br />Does data drive the front-end? Or the back-end?<br />
    3. 3. Lake Forest College<br />15,000 Forester alumni of record<br />13,000 Forestersolicitable alumni<br />Traditional 4-year national liberal arts college; 1,400 students<br />30 miles north of Chicago<br />6,000 alumni, parents and friends in Chicagoland<br />Top 5 markets 500 to 800 alumni<br />Top 20 markets over 100 alumni<br />1997 – Beginning of Alumni Program<br />
    4. 4. Market Research is not Academic Research<br />We are looking for trends, no absolutes.<br />
    5. 5. Front-End Data Drives Programming Efforts<br />Applying Data Screening to<br />more than just Major Donors<br />
    6. 6. Forester Pride<br />
    7. 7. Sesquicentennial Campaign<br />Public Launch in 2007<br />To raise $100 million<br />
    8. 8. Campaign Data Screening<br />17,127 Records screened by GG&A<br />Includes Alumni, Non-Grad Alumni, Parents, Friends<br />Assigned a “geocode” and appended with census block and tract information<br />Enhanced with Claritas PRIZM Lifestage Segments<br />16,631 (97.1%) of records matched<br />GG&A enhanced with “Prospect Profile” and “Prospect Explorer”<br />Provided Annual Giving, Major Gift, and Planned Giving Codes<br />
    9. 9. Potential via AG Code<br />
    10. 10. Lifestage Segmentation<br />
    11. 11. Defining a Primary Market<br />
    12. 12. Relative Draw Index<br />RDI is a percent divided by a percent to give you a ratio. 1.0 is even. Below 1.0 is under-drawing, or poor. Above 1.0 is over-drawing, or good.<br />Group of 100 at homecoming, 20% yellow<br />Population of 1,000, 30% yellow<br />Divide 20% by 30% = 0.66, or underdraw<br />
    13. 13. Homecoming RDI<br />
    14. 14. Data- Driving Homecoming Today<br />
    15. 15. Homecoming RDI<br />
    16. 16. Who is Coming ?<br />Three out of Four are Donors<br />
    17. 17. Who is Coming ?<br />A Significant Number are Volunteers<br />
    18. 18. Homecoming Weekend<br />Our greatest opportunity to reinforce our mission is possible because <br />of alumni support.<br />
    19. 19. Back-End Data Proves Effectiveness<br />Building the Case for a Cocktail.<br />Or a lecture.<br />Or a tour.<br />
    20. 20. Why BenchmarkAgainst Yourself?<br />Lake Forest College<br />Homecoming<br />Grinnell College<br />Homecoming<br />Homecoming<br />Reunion Weekend and Family Weekend<br />6,000 Alumni within 1 hour<br />Homecoming<br />No Homecoming Hosted<br />2,000 Alumni in all of Iowa<br />Des Moines, 1,100<br />
    21. 21. Why BenchmarkAgainst Yourself?<br />Lake Forest College<br />Sarah Lawrence<br />Alumni are not clustered in markets<br />Top Markets outside of Chicago have less than 1,000 alumni<br />Social networking important part of programming<br />Faculty on the Road produces lower turnout<br />Alumni are clustered in markets<br />Top Three Markets all have over 5,000 alumni<br />Intellectual stimulation is an important part of programming<br />Faculty on the Road receives a huge response<br />
    22. 22. Benchmarking Events<br />Traditional Methods<br />Head counts<br />Number of events<br />Response rates<br />Benchmarking Methods–Consumer Marketing Principles<br />Primary/Target market<br />Relative Draw Index<br />Event Attendance vs. Giving Participation Trends<br />Cost per guest<br />Market coverage<br />
    23. 23. Attendance by Class Year<br />
    24. 24. Event Attendance and Giving<br />
    25. 25. Event Attendees whoIncrease Giving<br />
    26. 26. Average Gift of Event Attendees<br />
    27. 27. Event Frequency vs. Gift Frequency<br />
    28. 28. Host Committees Produce<br />
    29. 29. Cost per Guest<br />
    30. 30. 2009 Reunions Drew a12.3%Response Rate<br />A 10% Response Rate is a Success.<br />But that is going up.<br />
    31. 31. Admissions Volunteer AF<br />
    32. 32. CAC Volunteers AF<br />
    33. 33. A&D Volunteer AF<br />
    34. 34. Volunteer AF Participation<br />
    35. 35. Total Volunteer AF Giving<br />
    36. 36. Closing Thoughts<br />Timothy State ’93<br />Associate Vice President of Alumni Programs<br />Lake Forest College<br /><br />847-735-6022<br />