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Post-secondary institutions are a pillar of communities across the country, with Canadian universities and colleges welcoming over 1.4 million students to their campuses each year. 

After years of studying and learning, those 1.4 million students will walk across the stage to receive their diplomas, transitioning from current students to alumni. Schools lean on the alumni community for a range of initiatives and endeavors, from mentoring current students to engaging the school community.

In addition to giving their time through volunteering, universities and colleges look to their alumni to give back through donations, too. However, current alumni fundraising models are not perfect, with sources of friction ranging from ease of donation to reminder frequency.

While some speculate the issue lies in an unwillingness to give, we’re not sure that’s true. Perhaps post-secondary institutions just need a new, innovative, and modern way to fundraise. 

Post-Secondary Institutions and Fundraising

The importance of fundraising initiatives for post-secondary institutions is not a new trend — it’s been a pillar of the education industry for over 375 years!

In 1643, Harvard University hosted what is thought to be “America’s first recorded fund drive,” leaning on community donations to build a brand new college residence. Alumni and community fundraising remain a staple of the education industry even now, with American schools like Penn State reporting record-setting fundraising results in 2022. 

The Need for a Shift in Fundraising Tactics

Although fundraising is an integral part of many post-secondary institutions, it’s not a perfect strategy by any means. In fact, more and more schools are seeing friction between their donors — especially alumni — and their current fundraising efforts. 

The frequency of alumni exposure to fundraising efforts is one major source of friction for universities and colleges. Most schools send out donation requests once or twice a year. Unfortunately, the large gaps between solicitation requests are where requests are getting lost. 

What’s more, requests are often sent via mail despite the fundraising sphere becoming increasingly more digital. Physical mail is easily dropped in the wrong mailbox, tossed out with recycling, or deemed spam before it’s even opened. 

Another source of friction is that alumni aren’t sure how to donate… and they’re not sure they can afford to. This highlights two areas of post-secondary fundraising that need desperate attention: ease of donation and amount of donation.

Alumni — or any donor, for that matter — shouldn’t feel that it’s easier not to donate than it is to figure out the donation process. They also shouldn’t feel discouraged to donate because of an incorrect perception that schools only want large donations. 

There are simply too many barriers in the current fundraising model for post-secondary institutions to truly thrive with alumni donations…but not for much longer. 

Finding the Solution in Hope Factory’s Round UP

In 2019, AMAtlas found that “alumni account for 58% of all donors to participating institutions” in Canada. Hanover Research suggests the same trend in the United States, with recent statistics positioning alumni as the “second-largest source of higher education contributions.”

Considering how much of the donor pool alumni represent across the entirety of North America, why aren’t schools offering fundraising solutions that are easy, fast, and manageable? 

Simple: because that solution didn’t exist until Hope Factory.

Our platform offers post-secondary institutions a digital-first solution, remedying confusing donation processes, easily lost mailers, and barriers to large-scale donations.

When schools join a Hope Factory ecosystem, they can better engage alumni at all stages of donation readiness, creating a “donor funnel” to engage and sustain new and mature alumni. Our Round UP solution empowers recent grads to try out micro-donations, alleviating pressure from navigating the newly joined workforce, while figuring out how to give back.  More established alumni who are ready and able to give can increase their Round UP monthly limits or even join the same ecosystem as a corporate partner or sponsor to boost the overall impact.

Whether your institution is improving campus life through a new donation-funded residence or contributing to a new scholarship for an important community cause, Hope Factory’s platform makes it easier for alumni to give back a little bit every time they spend, and do so with pride!

With more donations coming in — and a donor pool that’s constantly growing thanks to micro-donations — post-secondary institutions can seamlessly reach their fundraising goals, making a difference in the lives of current and future students. 

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