Build Goodwill: Keep Constituencies Connected
The idea of receiving a random, out of nowhere alumni/development solicitation request sends chills up my spine. Perhaps it’s due to a family member’s experience with an institution that sent an out of the blue letter asking for a five figure gift. Let me give you a bit of background…
The organization conducted no advance work, nada, nothing. Not even a courtesy phone call to cultivate the relationship. Compounding this was that the institution had fallen out of touch for a number of years prior to the arrival of the letter.
My relative said, “couldn’t they have taken a bit of time to drive an hour and take me to lunch in order to bring me up-to-speed and share their vision?” Sounds reasonable, but it wasn’t done and they lost a constituent largely in part to poor communications skills.
Look, falling out of touch happens easily- I’m the first to admit that I’ve lost contact with friends through the years. In the past we chalked it up to the classic tale of too much to do, too little time. Thankfully social media provides all of us with simple, efficient ways to remain connected.
Social media tools like Facebook, Twitter, blogging, etc offer easily used tools to keep folks bound on near daily basis. More importantly they allow you to build meaningful relationships- that in many instances extend well beyond the context of your school. Connected, interested, knowledgeable constituents trump any out of the blue donation request. You can solicit out of blue; but when you do, you’ll likely find that people are more willing to contribute because they feel emotionally connected.
Brad J Ward of SquaredPeg, Bulter University & BlueFuego captured this notion particularly well in his post, Friendraise before you Fundraise, that explored how social media facilitates a two-way relationship between a school and its alums:
… I’m excited about all of these tools on the web that help facilitate friendships. Nearly every time someone on Facebook or Twitter asks for donations towards a cause, whether it’s a Polar Bear Plunge, March of Dimes, etc. I’ll usually give $5 or $10. Why? Because I have a relationship with that person and I’d like to help them out. The amount might be small, but the friendship facilitated it.
And what would happen if my Alma Mater asked for a small donation on Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn after we’d been ‘friends’ and adding value to each other for a few months? I’d donate.
I’m right there with him.
Photo credit: TheAlienessGiselaGiardino²³