We’ve all gone to conferences throughout our careers. The presenters are dynamic and engaging. They’re packed with great ideas. And, you leave completely invigorated and motivated to implement those ideas in your organization.
Then……you get back to work and the reality and day-to-day demands of development hit you. The e-mails have piled up, events are right around the corner, and donors need stewarding. The thought of implementing anything new all of a sudden seems just a bit crazy!
After attending my last conference I was determined to turn at least one idea into a reality. It helped that the conference was one of the best I had been to in recent years. It was an Academic Impressions conference called “Young Alumni: Establishing Lifelong Relationships”. The content was extensive, including topics on student philanthropy, transitioning to young alumni, gap analysis, young alumni volunteers, targeted events, strategizing social media, and even gaining campus buy-in. I definitely came away with a lot of great ideas and could very easily have been overwhelmed.
Instead I came back and immediately pitched many of the concepts to the Dean, who is always ready and willing to try new ideas.
Next step was to conduct a gap analysis. Student philanthropy is a fairly new concept for us, so there were gaps in all four areas: Engagement, Awareness, Leadership, and Giving that we needed to address.
Keeping it simple, we came up with the following plan:
- Use the annual Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) BBQ as the event to implement some of the student philanthropy ideas. The WISE BBQ happens every year in May, right before graduation – so the timeline was set…..there was no turning back!
- To establish a sense of community and connection with the university, the students will sign a banner for their graduation year that will be used at future events.
- Interacting with alums was our most important goal. We decided to invite our Advisory Board Members (many of whom are alums). We created a “personal trivia” game using facts about each Board Member. Students will work in teams to see who can be the first to match the facts to the Board Members.
- Guest speakers are planned, all of whom are women alums. They will speak, discussing their own paths to leadership, and the importance of taking a leadership role as a student.
- Communicate what it means to be an alum, and the many ways to give back.
- Stress participation – it’s not about the $$$
There are so many more ideas we would love to implement. But, it is definitely a great start toward our ultimate goal: to build a culture and community of loyalty and philanthropy among current students that will last a lifetime.
Let me know how you have put conference ideas into action in your organizations! Leave a comment below.