Hidden connections: Building relationships across campus to identify potential alumni donors


Identifying prospects for donations is a critical aspect of effectively securing gifts. While investing in the right software to maximize your opportunities to yield gifts is critical, there is another excellent way to identify prospects: the staff and faculty on your campus. These individuals have often spent substantial time with students helping them develop in the classroom, through leadership, and interpersonally. They are the people who write the letters of recommendations to become a resident assistant, join that fraternity or sorority, or get into that graduate school. They continue to answer calls three years after the student graduated to serve as a reference for a professional opportunity and get the pop-up visits, calls for “adulting” advice, and are planned stops for homecoming. Long before your database catches up to where these students are, these individuals know that they landed an amazing professional opportunity, secured a six-figure job, took six months to take a global trek, or received that full-ride. All of which are talking points to engage these alumni in your programs, panels, and other invitations before asking them for money.

  1. Identify individuals who have notably strong relationships with students on campus. Often times you will find these individuals in the Division of Student Affairs, faculty research labs, other areas where students have high engagement opportunities. Ask your current engaged alumni who positively affected them on campus while they were students. Find out who the advisors are

  2. Reach out to those individuals and learn what they do and where you can engage with their work on campus. You may learn about traditions and high-impact learning experiences that are not known widely on campus, like an annual concert, but are deeply shaping students. Show up to some of these activities when possible.

Great technology is great, but it is only as good as the data you collect. Building relationships with your campus influencers will also help you fill in the blanks the software cannot provide. Show up to campus events. Send that email. Pick up the phone and make that call. One of your best prospect tools is hiding in plain sight.


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