[1/6] Schools and H.E’s – You Need to Focus More on Online Fundraising

If you think peer-to-peer fundraising is just for charities and crowdfunding is just for students, it’s time to think again. This is a sample of Blackbaud’s upcoming six-part whitepaper: Empowering the Crowd: How to Make Social Fundraising Work for Your Educational Institution.


Following the recent upsurge in alumni relations teams harnessing the power of social media in building alumni communities, we are now seeing something similar in the online fundraising space at univerisities and schools.


The importance of online giving is increasing across all sectors: in 2015, overall giving grew by 1.6% whereas online giving grew by 9.2%. And for the second consecutive year, giving to Higher Education and School institutions grew the most, with online giving to universities increasing by 16.6% from 2013 to 2014, and then by 15.2% from 2014 to 2015.




Why are educational institutions experiencing such high growth in online giving over recent years? Part of this trend may be due to this segment of the sector playing catch-up, as more institutions realise donors are moving away from cheques and posting paper donation forms to donating online. Nonetheless, online giving to universities and schools still remains a very small percentage of their overall giving – 3.8% for HEs vs. an average of 7.1% across the sector.


When we spend so much time online, why isn’t online giving higher?


  • Of course, the focus on the small number of prospects who can give the most will impact online giving – you’re unlikely to give you £250,000 gift online. This focus shouldn’t be eroded, but we need to think of creative ways to engage the wider crowd.


  • Generational differences – most of our existing donor base probably lies within the Baby Boomer and Mature generation who tend to spend less time online than our younger peers.



  • It can be too difficult and frustrating to donate online. All too often I have visited university or school websites where I can’t find information on what to support, how to give or even give online at all. This opportunity cost in lost support from unfriendly user experiences is growing each year.


  • Perhaps it’s that, as a sector, we are inexperienced and not bold enough about articulating and promoting our missions. That goes for both our alumni, but also to other communities and a wider audience.


Charities do a fantastic job at engaging the wider community through peer-to-peer fundraising. Universities provide the ground-breaking research and solutions to societal problems that charities fund, and there is a fantastic opportunity to promote more widely our programmes to engage a more diverse group.


We need to enable individuals to personally identify with projects they want to support; not necessarily by donating directly to the project, but by fundraising for the project and reaching out to their networks. Crowdfunding and peer-to-peer fundraising allows for an untapped opportunity to engage more of our alumni which in turn can help you engage a wider community.


We all want to reach more people with our missions.  If done well, the potential for future levels of engagement within and beyond our alumni base is truly staggering.


Look out for Part 2 of this six part series next week, where we explore how to utilise peer-to-peer fundraising in your crowdfunding efforts.


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