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How to Connect With Alumni Without Asking for Money

Posted by Eric Callaghan on Jun 1, 2016 8:00:00 AM

Screen_Shot_2014-11-03_at_9.22.37_AM.pngSay you work for your college's advancement office. In the last month the Class of 2016 just graduated and you want to re-connect with them as soon as possible right? But asking for a donation when they just got finished paying tuition, and more than likely have loans to pay back, can come on too strong and you'll most likely lose them. Allow me to offer some advice on how to connect with alumni without asking for money.

I just graduated (holds for applause) so I can provide some firsthand perspective to this conundrum. Take it form me, a 2016 graduate who barely had time to sit back down after walking across the stage at his own ceremony before a member of the alumni association was asking for donations from the group.

It's not that we don't want to give back. We can't afford to.

What do I recommend?

If this is your first time reading our blog, we're all about using inbound marketing to shepherd people through the buyer's journey, and ultimately, as we like to say it, "attract, convert, close and delight." We do that by solving people's problems, answering their questions and relieving their anxieties through our content. Content like this blog post.

From your point of view, you have a target audience who cares about your school and who more than likely wants to stay up to date with at least some of what's happening around campus. As digital marketing guru Gary Vaynerchuk says, “Your story needs to move people’s spirits and build their goodwill, so that when you finally do ask them to buy from you, they feel like you’ve given them so much it would be almost rude to refuse.” 

The takeaway from this quote is to not ask people for something until you earn it. It looks desperate. Plus, if you know your target audience, or any target audience for that matter, you should know that they don't like desperate. You need to build their trust and be seen as a valuable resource in their eyes.

But How? 

A steady stream of informative content goes a long way. 

What you want to do is provide the information for which your recent graduates are looking. Become their trusted resource for the major events, research, and stories around campus that interest them. Give advice about the job search, about breaking into their field and other career based concerns they may have. Advertise the value of your career center and any mentorship programs you may be able to offer. These are just a few examples of the infinite ways you can add value to your alumni's lives.

If you can build their trust over time, you know, during the time when they're using their first salaries to pay for student loan debt, maybe they'll think about giving at a later date. All those stories about the solid base their education gave them, the various highlights they've been reading about their alma mater, and the valuable resources of information that you have been relaying to them after graduation will build trust. After you've given them all those many reasons to stay connected, that's when they'll donate.

Now that we've covered how to connect with your young alumni without asking for their donations so quickly, how about organizing and executing a successful giving day?

The FREE case study at the link below will explain how Verge Pipe Media used inbound marketing practices to blow past a client's initial giving day goal.

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Topics: higher education