The engagement process is a crucial time period to build a prospect’s affinity towards your university. This can take several years and it is imperative that each touch point is done with strategic intention. To make sure this is happening, schools must be equipped with engagement activities that are targeted towards their strengths and tiered with various levels. Having this strategic approach helps move prospects on a specific path that will lead them to a major gift that matches the priorities of your university.
Targeted means making sure that your engagement activities focus on the core competencies of your university. You should have a catalogued list of these activities that are created from your school’s expertise and fundraising goals. This way you are getting prospects involved in the areas of importance to your university that need funding. For example, if your university has a heavy focus on entrepreneurship, there should be several options for getting prospects involved in this area. Examples of entrepreneurial engagement activities could include:
- Guest lecturer for a entrepreneurship course
- Volunteer judge for a business plan competition
- Entrepreneurship conference keynote speaker
- Mentor/coach for a Student business
The second part to targeted engagement is making sure that the activity precisely aligns with the donors interests. High net worth individuals have limited free time. Because of this, it is essential that their time is spent on something they are truly passionate about.
Once you have an extensive list of engagement activities, they should be organized into various levels – preferably five. The first level includes starter activities like being an event volunteer. The highest level should be the deepest form of involvement such as a board of trustees member. The goal is to gradually move prospects from one level to the next over the years. As they move to higher stages, the prospect will gain more affinity towards your school and thus have great propensity to make a major gift. Below is a sample of the levels:
Overall, major gift prospects are valuable assets to a university so it is important that the engagement process is done with strategic intent. Having a catalogue of tiered engagement activities tailored to your school ensures that your fundraising staff is performing their jobs in the most efficient manner.