[5/6] Positioning Social Fundraising in Your Advancement Programme

Social fundraising will add more value when placed in your advancement programme to complement your existing initiatives, not to replace them. Certain approaches will work for some audiences but not for others – it is a way to engage your millennial alumni, current students and wider alumni, and be added as an extra channel alongside your other initiatives. It works most successfully with the younger generations because:


1) It’s fun and convenient
2) They can find a project they are most inspired by
3) It inspires them through their peers to give, or motivates them to reach their own networks


Above everything else, this method of fundraising will be its most effective as a donor acquisition and engagement tool. Peer-to-peer fundraising empowers individuals to ask on your behalf, removing some of the work from your team and helping you build awareness around a variety of projects. Any investment in to crowdfunding will help drive up participation.


It could, therefore, be the extra push you need for your annual fund to raise participation to the next level, or reach non-alumni effectively for the first time. The channel itself may or may not draw in vast sums of money, but it will help your overall development and alumni relations programme be more successful by helping boost your major gifts programme through:


– Providing all of the donor data to gain intelligence on philanthropic interests to make future campaigns more successful. Knowing how someone wants to support you is an invaluable data commodity. Ensure your platform provides this.

– Capturing peer-to-peer relationships and understanding a donor’s networks. You may know if two alumni now work together, but it’s more powerful to know who inspired whom to donate.

– Engaging more people: whether they make a gift to you or not, you are raising awareness of your mission. The dynamic sharing of content to social media through crowdfunding platforms can be the most stirring.


Sometimes things just happen, and you need to be prepared to react. Following the shooting of Cecil the Lion in the summer of 2015, the University of Oxford set up a crowdfunding campaign and engaged over 12,000 new individuals over a few weeks. Whilst outrage around the shooting and a collective desire to protect endangered lions was the motivator for almost all to give, the development team knows that some of these newly-acquired donors will be happy to support broader conservation initiatives if asked in the right way.


Many individuals felt so passionately about the event that they set up peer-to-peer fundraising pages to support the conservation efforts. A set of individuals with no prior connection to the university is now engaged around something they are passionate about, but which is also a key priority for the institution.




Whilst the scenario is unique, it demonstrates the power of social fundraising. Utilising crowdfunding and peer-to-peer fundraising as a medium to reach new audiences, as well as an opportunity to move new donors up the giving ladder.

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