As the busy development professionals that we all are, I know how hard it is to get everything done every day. There are new prospects to meet, current donors to steward, and events to plan…..just to name a few of the many tasks in an average day.
It’s easy to overlook the donors that are a captive audience for those of us who work at educational institutions: our current students! Students are the donors of the future and it’s important to have a plan in place to cultivate them as future alumni while they are still on campus.
The College of Science recently had an event that specifically focused on our students: the College of Science Graduation Celebration.
From a development perspective our plan for this event included the following goals:
- Create a sense of community and connection with the university
- Build a culture of loyalty and philanthropy that will last a lifetime
- Build awareness of what it means to be an alum
- Provide information on the many ways to give back
- Stress participation and that it’s not just about monetary donations
Here are some of the ways we achieved our goals:
- Students signed a banner specific to their graduation year. This banner will be used at all future events as a symbol of their unique community. At future events, students who didn’t originally get to sign the banner can add their signature – and the connections will grow!
- Each student received a button that said “I’m a Young Alum”. These were a big hit with the students, many of whom put them on and wore them throughout the event.
At the graduation celebration students had their parents with them who delighted in taking their picture while they signed the banner. Other students took selfies of themselves and their friends as they signed. And many students took the time to find their friends signatures so they could sign near them, or found a unique place on the banner so they could leave their mark.
We followed up the celebration with food trucks serving hot dogs and ice cream, and plenty of places to gather one last time with their friends before walking across the stage to accept their degree.
The event was a huge success for many reasons. But, for the College of Science development team, it was an important piece in our donor pipeline.
Watch the video to see more about this important development event.