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How to Fundraise Using the 5 W's

Posted by Alexa Russell on Aug 8, 2018 9:00:00 AM

Fundraising can be one of the most difficult tasks for higher education. Convincing people to give you their hard-earned money can be a daunting task. One of the best ways to get people to give to your cause is to create a journey for your donors. This can be done through many different mediums with different angles. A good guideline to follow is the 5 W’s - who, what, when, where, and why.

First, let them know who they are giving to. This should begin before students or employees become donors. Highlight the culture of your university and make sure your students and your donors feel like they are an important part of it. Keep in contact with donors and potential donors via email newsletters, phone calls, and social media. Make your donors feel like they are becoming a part of something bigger.

Most of your donations will likely come from alumni. In 2017, 26.1% of all of the money donated to higher education came from alumni (a higher percentage than any of the other groups). This means that once your students graduate, you still need to maintain a relationship with them. Create a story for your brand and make sure it is consistent across all social media platforms and websites. Using Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube can help you reach younger generations and develop relationships with them. Using Facebook can allow you to reach more established donors who may be able to donate more.


After that, show them what they are giving to. Tell your donors exactly what the money will be supporting and how it will affect the people at your university. For example, if the money will be used for a new building, highlight how it will benefit students and faculty. Also, highlight all the amenities you intend to include. Create a catchy hashtag to use across all social media platforms and encourage people within your university to share it as well as the people who donate. This will get people talking about your fundraiser and they will be more likely to want to participate.

Next, give them a compelling reason why they should donate. Provide incentives based on the amount they donate that can include things such as: a brick/plaque/building with their name or business name on it, exclusive invitations to events and ceremonies, promotional gifts, decision making power, or other enticing items.

Show them how it benefits them directly. Appeal to their emotional side by saying they are leaving behind a legacy for their children or future children. Also encourage them to give back to a place that provided a unique and compelling experience for them.


Do research on your highest donors and don’t lose contact with them. Regularly invite them to events and get to know them. Make them feel included during the fundraising process and after to make them more likely to donate again in the future. But, don’t forget about your younger donors who may not be able to donate as much. You have to maintain contact with them and establish a relationship in order to encourage them to donate money in the future when they have higher earning potential.

Lastly, create a call-to-action telling them when and where to donate. Add a call-to-action to your website to encourage immediate giving. Once you start fundraising, use infographics to show progress towards your goal each time you reach a milestone. Give details of what each increment of your goal means for your cause in blog posts, newsletters, and on social media.


Encourage donors to set up a monthly or annual donation, but make it easy for them. Online giving is essential. Be sure to allow for easy online giving, especially for the younger generation. Online giving for higher education grew 13.2% from 2016 to 2017. While online giving has grown, calling and emailing your potential donors is still essential. Having consistent contact throughout the years is imperative to maintaining relationships with your current and potential donors.

In order to use the 5 W's to their full potential, you have to put out quality content. This includes blogs, newsletters, videos, graphics, and more. To master this, download our free Ebook on the guide to Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat for Higher Education. This guide can help you reach more potential donors and increase your fundraising. 

university's guide to visual content

Topics: higher education, higher ed, higher ed marketing, higher ed inbound marketing, higher ed social media, Giving Day, Giving Tuesday

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