Regardless of whether your institution is a small-town college or a major university, donations allow you to continue providing the gift of learning. However, with the unprecedented circumstances created by the COVID-19 crisis, higher education institutions are being put to the test. To continue operations, securing funds is of paramount importance—now more than ever.
From donations for funding remote learning expenses to covering housing shutdown costs, you’ll need to get creative in your fundraising. Find out where your institution may be leaving money on the table, so you can continue your day-to-day operations despite the current constraints. Let’s dive in. Here are four opportunities you shouldn’t miss.
1. Take advantage of matching gift programs
As COVID-19 continues to spread around the globe, corporate America is stepping up its philanthropic efforts to help schools and other nonprofits continue operations. Corporate philanthropy is a growing phenomenon, but not all higher ed institutions take advantage of matching gift programs. They represent a huge revenue opportunity.
Since many supporters are facing financial constraints at this time, you’ll need to do everything you can to connect with them on a deeper level.
The process is straightforward:
- A donor makes a gift to your school.
- They check their eligibility for their employer’s match program.
- If eligible, they submit a match request to their employer.
- The employer reviews the match request.
- The employer sends a check to your organization.
That’s all it takes. These powerful contributions can multiply the donations you’re already receiving. With COVID-19 negatively impacting your school, generous donors will want to do all they can to expand their impact—especially if it comes at no extra cost to them.
Ensure your director of giving does ample research and shares any available information with your team and donors. To quicken the research process, consider investing in a dedicated matching gift database. That way, you’ll have access to all employers’ giving program guidelines in one place.
Continue your research with this comprehensive guide and arm your team with sufficient knowledge about matching gifts. That way, you won’t overlook any potential revenue.
2. Optimize your donation forms for mobile
Chances are, the majority of your donors interact with you via mobile devices. When donors are ready to donate, the last thing you want is to prevent them from giving.
By excluding mobile fundraising, you limit revenue opportunities. Instead, allow donors to give from the comfort of their own homes with a mobile-responsive donation page.
To ensure your online donation form is mobile responsive, consider the following:
- Limit input fields to only capture essential information.
- Reduce the number of graphics to decrease page load times.
- Limit the form to one page.
- Avoid pop-ups and redirects.
There are endless ways to optimize your donation page. However, don’t sacrifice quality for speed. Rather, find the right compromise, while still capturing essential data within your visually appealing form.
3. Understand your donors and what motivates them to give
With larger donor and alumni bases than ever, higher ed institutions can’t afford to skip the prospect research stage. Since many supporters are facing financial constraints at this time, you’ll need to do everything you can to connect with them on a deeper level. Capture the following important data:
- contact information and preferred means of contact
- previous donations to your school and other organizations
- wealth indicators such as real estate ownership and career
- their motivation for donating (visit DonorSearch’s giving affinity guide to learn more)
After acquiring new donors, continuously engage them by leveraging the above information. That way, you can develop strong connections, create personalized asks, and secure more donations—despite any financial hardship.
4. Fully leverage corporate philanthropy opportunities
Social distancing guidelines and shelter-in-place orders may prevent volunteer opportunities now, but you can still receive funding for past volunteer efforts. Through volunteer grant programs, your dedicated volunteers can acquire funds for your school. This is great for supporters who have a passion for giving, but not the financial capacity.
Fortunately, the volunteer grant process is simple. An employer with this program will establish a threshold of minimum-hours needed for eligibility. Once an employee surpasses this threshold, the employer will confirm the hours and send a set grant amount.
Locate your volunteers who work for companies with these programs, determine their eligibility, and make sure that deadlines to submit requests haven’t gone by.
Missing out on donation revenue is not an option for colleges and universities, especially right now. Now that you know how to fill in the four common revenue gaps, reevaluate your fundraising strategy and adjust it to account for current constraints. You’ll see positive results in no time.
Adam Weinger is president of Double the Donation.
UB’s coronavirus page offers complete coverage of the impacts on higher ed.