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How Do Alumni Associations Raise Money?

By LeanStream Engagement on April, 20 2022

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Lack of grants and reduced funding are some of the multiple financial constraints that schools have to deal with. This severely hampers their ability to deliver on their mission to educate students and serve the community. While it is not ideal, fundraising serves as a necessary but welcome beacon of hope. 

Engaging students and alumni associations are one of the best ways for schools to raise funds and complement their budgets. It is also a great way of engaging the alumni. Naturally, most of the alumni are proud of their alma mater and therefore have a desire to help where they can.

Alumni fundraising drives have the potential to raise some much-needed funds while providing students with an opportunity to network and create meaningful relationships with alumni.

This article will look at the best practices and ideas that your school can implement to make the best of your alumni fundraising campaigns.

Alumni Networking Luncheons

One way that alumni associations make money is by holding networking luncheons. However, if your school aims to raise money from this exercise, it is vital to consider the audience you invite and what matters to them. 

For instance, computer science graduates are likely to be interested in attending a luncheon hosted by an influential figure in the technology industry and discussing available opportunities in that field. Alumni will have no qualms attending [and contributing] if they feel the luncheon provides value to them. 

This is also an opportunity for the school to lay the foundations for future fundraising drives. It is also important for the school to create a link on their website for alumni to contribute online if they cannot attend the luncheon.

Sporting Events

Naturally, alumni involved in college/university sporting events are energetic and would jump at any opportunity to support a school's fundraising campaign. 

If your school intends to target this group, it is best to make them understand how their funding will provide value to sporting programs. This could mean buying new equipment and kits and renovating/building a stadium. 

Similar fundraising campaigns have raised thousands of dollars for schools.

The fundraiser is an opportunity for athlete alumni to interact with fellow athletes, faculty, and parents. The event may include a few professional athletes, preferably school alumni as well. 

 To raise more revenue, the school could also sell raffle tickets with a chance to win a ticket for the local club's big game or other special event.

Gala Dinner

A gala dinner is another opportunity for alumni to socialize and raise money. It is also pretty straightforward; alumni pay a certain amount to attend a fancy dinner. Schools can always make this more fun and raise more funds by making it a themed gala.

The number of funds raised ultimately depends on the fun and the nature of invited alumni. For example, a black-tie event with the promise of a three-course meal by a renowned chef [preferably an alumnus as well] would appeal more to affluent alumni. 

Because this group has disposable income, the school may consider a silent auction to raise more funds. There is never a shortage of ideas for this either. A signed shirt from a college athlete who turned pro or the promise of naming the school gym after the alumni with the highest bid would rake in considerable amounts of fundraising dollars.

Tree Planting

A tree planting event is a chance to raise fundraising dollars while supporting the planet.  

 The alumni don't need a green thumb to attend the fundraiser. They need someone to provide them with saplings and inform them what the fundraiser is all about. This could be a project to build a garden or give the school courtyard a makeover. 

 Either way, schools use this as an opportunity to bring the alumni together, involve the school community, including current students, and raise money for school projects.

Tasting Event

This idea is geared more toward college alumni, but could easily be modified for other groups. We've got a few ideas at the end of this section.

You can count the number of people who will forego a wine tasting opportunity using a hand with amputated fingers. Therefore, a wine tasting fundraiser is a brilliant idea that alumni associations use to raise money. 

For starters, it is pretty easy to convince alumni to attend. This increases the potential for such an event to raise a considerable amount of money. The wine tasting could be for educational purposes or a judged show.

The school can choose to specialize in a particular type of wine to spice up the event.

For example, red wine for Valentine's or champagne. 

Schools can engage with vineyards or wine shops to increase revenue and ensure the entry fee is reasonable to attract as many attendees as possible. 

For K-12 school alumni, consider an elevated school cafeteria menu. Nearly everyone remembers the stereotypical cafeteria food from when they were school, why not take a few of the most iconic of those and have a local chef remake them in a new way. This idea is even better, if you can find an alum to do the cooking.

You could also do a hot sauce tasting, buffalo wing tasting, or a cook-off. Feel free to get creative with this one!

Direct Fundraising

This is probably the most obvious way for alumni associations to raise money. 

It is also arguably the most effective. It involves directly explaining a cause to an alumnus and then asking them to contribute to the cause. There is a caveat, though; schools have to make the alumni understand that they contribute to a super impactful cause. This way, it is easier for them to part with their money. 

 Buy-A-Brick

If the school is fundraising to construct a building or looking to give an old one a new makeover, the Buy-A-Brick method is excellent to engage alumni. This would involve asking the alumni to purchase bricks. They would donate money depending on the number of bricks and the price per brick. To incentivize them to buy more bricks, the school can promise to recognize the biggest contributors on the building. 

Final Word

Getting alumni to contribute can be daunting. Statistics indicate that the alumni giving rate has been below 10% in the past 2-3 years. However, this should not discourage your school from engaging with alumni associations in your fundraising endeavors. After all, some schools have posted an impressive 50% giving rate in the same period.

Your alumni fundraising can match and even exceed your expectations with the above ideas.  

At LeanStream, we are committed to helping your school by providing online fundraising, e-commerce, fees management, and donor engagement solutions. Please check out our list of fundraising solutions, and let's work together to help our education sector. 

Fund raising for the entire education family

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