Alumni Relations Program Work
Educational institutions are experiencing a growing demand for alumni involvement in all phases of Advancement – from recruitment, advocacy, career support and goodwill to, of course, fundraising. Alumni are essential members of any educational community; in turn, the institution has a responsibility to cultivate and support its alumni for a lifetime.
As the Alumni Relations function continues to serve an increasingly vital role on campus as a key member of the Advancement team, the field itself is in transformation. Among the major issues confronting institutional and alumni leadership are:
- Integration of Alumni Relations and Development.
- Management of shrinking financial resources.
- Engagement of alumni in meaningful, purposeful and measurable ways.
We view these issues through an opportunistic lens. The case can be made that engaged alumni are more likely to make financial gifts – a factor that positively influences development of Alumni Relations programming, communications and services.
Marts & Lundy works closely with our higher education and schools clients to develop effective alumni engagement programs through deep insight, strategy and experience. We find solutions that address the nuances of each client situation in order to optimize volunteerism and engagement, energize the alumni base and enhance fundraising.
The firm has a core group of consultants that have deep experience in all phases of alumni engagement and giving. Additional Marts & Lundy staff provide essential support in terms of analytics, research and technology.
Assessment of Alumni Programs
There are many types of advancement models. This, coupled with the fact that every educational institution has a unique identity, culture and program goals, means that each assessment is designed specifically for the particular institution’s alumni program and organization.
The objective of a Marts & Lundy assessment is to evaluate a particular alumni program’s efficacy in engaging graduates in the life of the institution. Our assessment addresses issues of organizational structure – this includes staff as well as volunteers – along with issues related to communications and specific programmatic alumni activities. At its heart, the assessment uncovers opportunities for alumni to have a strong and engaged presence within the institution and vice versa. It also provides the impetus for enhancing and promoting new strategies and programs that promote a vibrant community of alumni — one that is rewarding for them and the institution. The assessment is carried out through a variety of techniques including
- Review of alumni demographics, giving and affinity
- Alumni program reports, budgets, job descriptions, by-laws and other materials
- Peer benchmarking analysis
- An online survey to alumni
- Personal interviews with staff, alumni and other key constituents
Following analysis of the gathered information, a report is prepared and personally delivered to the appropriate institutional audiences. Following the report delivery, the firm is available to provide counsel on implementation of the report recommendations.
Annual Giving Assessments and Counsel
Capital campaigns get all the glory, but the most successful campaigns are built on the shoulders of strong annual giving programs. An annual giving program should engage your constituents in your organization’s efforts, use analytics to identify the best tactics for securing philanthropic support from your stakeholders and build sustainable giving relationships that feed the major gift pipeline.
Annual giving counsel involves taking the long view and answering the difficult questions:
- Does your annual giving program consistently provide opportunities and reasons for donors to upgrade their gift levels?
- Do your outreach programs engage constituents in your mission and inform them of accomplishments?
- Are you best allocating limited resources to ensure a successful program?
- Do special programs, such as reunions, develop new major and leadership gift and volunteer prospects?
- Do you optimize which channel donors use to give – mail, phone, email, web, social and face-to-face?
- Do you effectively track when, how, and why a donor contributes? Do you use that information to build relationships with your donors?
- Do you know why non-donors do not support your efforts?
In our partnership with you, effective counsel can help you answer these questions, build on your strengths and eliminate your weaknesses. Our services combine a positive and creative application of experience and data analysis for your unique circumstances. We are in the business to talk with you about what you can do. We want to help you maximize every opportunity.
Fundraising Campaign Specialists
A fundraising campaign can be seen as a series of options. The ones you choose shape both your campaign and your organization’s long-term fundraising potential.
Marts & Lundy professionals, in addition to being fully conversant with all aspects of advancement programs, are fundraising campaign specialists. We help you select your best options, taking full advantage of our knowledge of successes and disappointments at institutions like yours. We will bring to you the newest ideas in the field and the knowledge of what probably lies ahead in your fundraising campaign. As these choices are faced, resolved, implemented, and evaluated, everyone on your team, from the volunteers to the record-keeping staff, will gain expertise.
Through regular, timely discussions, campaign counsel will work with you to build the basis for a successful campaign – everything from designing the broad campaign plan and timeline to developing cultivation and solicitation strategies for key donors. Counsel will provide advice on your budget, staffing requirements, volunteer needs, and training, as well as communications efforts and stewardship programs. Perhaps most importantly, counsel will help you stay focused on your fundraising campaign.
Your major/principal gift program lies at the heart of your success. These donors will be your lead volunteers and your leadership donors of the future. Whether you are building a major gifts program from scratch or you need to enhance an on-going program, counsel can provide the roadmap for your success.
All of our consultants are highly experienced in building successful major gifts programs. They will advise you on the most effective strategies for a vital and sustainable program, provide training for your gift officers and volunteers, and help you build strategies for success with individual donor prospects.
Marts & Lundy’s approach is to help our clients position their planned giving effort strategically within the broader context of the organization’s short and long term plans. Gift planning, broadly defined, encompasses the totality of a potential donor’s philanthropic endeavors with an institution.
The process of matching donor interest to institutional need depends upon a mutually advantageous gift plan. This process will include consideration of a range of charitable gift assets in combination with a variety of outright and deferred gift arrangements. A successful result will support strong relationships with donors as stakeholders in non-profit institutions and will maximize all giving.
To learn more about how Marts & Lundy may be able to help you in evaluating and improving your alumni relations program please contact us.
Governance & Leadership
The work of nonprofit institutions is becoming increasingly complex in response to a rapidly changing environment that places ever-new expectations on these institutions and their leaders. In their work towards a common vision for the future, executive leadership and their boards are challenged to become even more strategic and skilled. They must be able to identify the outcomes that will ensure the relevance and endurance of their institutions and envision, plan and fund their aspirations.
Strong leadership is a victory, not a gift. Poor governance or ineffective leadership can lead to institutional dysfunction and even paralysis. Marts & Lundy brings an objective, dispassionate perspective to governance and leadership matters, while offering advice and recommendations on how to govern and lead an institution in a strategic, ethical, and humane manner.
Marts & Lundy consultants work in partnerships with presidents, trustees, and senior administrators, to help nonprofit institutions respond to the challenges they face. As a firm, we know what has worked well in the past but, more important, we know what is working well today and we can help you plan for a successful future.
Specific services offerings
Helping boards and leadership to maximize their work by identifying the ‘right’ outcomes and the strategies for achieving them.
Critically reviewing board policies and practices concerning board membership, member orientation process, committee structure and effectiveness.
Board Self Development
Assisting senior leadership to recruit and develop a stable board with the skill and acumen to govern strategically and to develop the resources needed to advance the institution
Institutional Leadership Assessment
Critically reviewing the interactions amongst institutional leaders including trustees/directors, chief executive officers, chief advancement officers and chief financial officers.
Designing workshops to help your institutional leaders understand the culture of philanthropy and provide staff and volunteers the necessary tools to successfully raise funds for your institution/organization.
Social Media Fundraising Assessments and Counsel
The internet and social media have come to play integral roles in many aspects of our business and personal lives. So it is no surprise that institutions and organizations can experience great success by effectively utilizing these outlets to get ahead in the world of philanthropic giving. Social media is an ever-changing phenomenon that must be utilized in a way that is strategic and appropriate for each individual organization.
To that end, Marts & Lundy services include strategic assessments of your organization’s online presence and social media fundraising strategy – including core websites and social media accounts – to identify opportunities to improve constituent engagement and giving. Our assessment will review primary websites, profiles and pages on major social networks (Facebook, Flickr, Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube, etc.) as well as your organization’s online giving experience. The assessment will delve into the quantity and quality of postings, tweets, and discussions; the communication balance (push vs. receive with audiences); content quality and feedback; and advanced considerations: new networks, campaigns, social gift acknowledgements, etc.
Marts & Lundy’s assessments and counsel include:
- Opportunities for the integration of social media fundraising campaigns and communications
- An assessment of performance on the core website pages every nonprofit should have
- Tips for avoiding and/or fixing common social media mistakes made by nonprofits
Strategic Planning For Fundraising Strategies
Nonprofit institutions successful in developing significant philanthropic support demonstrate high quality performance resulting from a dynamic fundraising strategies and inclusive planning process. Our goal is to provide institutional leaders with counsel that focuses not merely on the development of the strategic plan but on the most effective ways to implement the plan.
Strategic plans are living documents that define overarching goals, strategies and courses of action that are monitored closely and revised with shifting conditions. Unified by bold but realistic visions and supported by core principles that guide decision-making, strong plans include focused, integrated strategies to achieve desired results. Fully integrated strategic plans include communications and financial plans for realigning or identifying needed resources and implementation plans that tie action to institutional mission. A fully integrated strategic plan provides not only a textured vision but a dynamic road map that identifies specified benchmarks and measurement criteria.
Careful plan implementation and monitoring facilitates leadership’s ability to track institutional achievement and to take advantage of new opportunities. Marts & Lundy’s approach to planning fundraising strategies will assist senior leadership to:
- keep an active finger on plan realization and institutional achievement through measurable goals and objectives;
- create a stronger brand signature through an increased evidence and story pool that expands the institution’s opportunities to communicate and spotlight its achievements;
- ensure that members of the administrative and academic community will “own” their individual pieces of the plan;
- ensure that close friends will become more engaged in the goals and aspirations of the institution and, therefore, more inclined to partner with the leadership to realize those goals.
Marts & Lundy’s strategic planning service is a fluid process accomplished through external facilitation, expert counsel and objectivity. For more information on how Marts & Lundy can assist you in facilitating planning your fundraising strategies, please contact us.