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Dear Analyst 12: Wealth Tracker

Mon, April 17, 2017 10:09 AM | Anonymous member

By Jessica Szadziewicz, Prospect Management and Research Analyst, Loyola University, Bill Farr, Director of Prospect Research, Rush University Medical Center, Angie Herrington, Development Associate, The Helen Brown Group

Dear Analyst,

I am writing to seek you advice/recommendations on best sources of information on tracking/handling children of wealth before they themselves attain major gift capacity. We have been working towards identifying the MG prospects among the parents of incoming freshmen as early in their 4 years at our institution as we possibly can. We try to find ways to “touch” these families early and often so we can turn the parents into donors while their children are still students. Once the children graduate, most parents (although not all) redirect their philanthropy to other causes. There is nothing more frustrating to me as the lone researcher here to uncover a family with capacity during the child/student’s final semester. What a squandered opportunity!

We are also trying to expose the students of these families to the meaning and impact that philanthropy (including their parents’ giving) has on the institution. Most importantly, and most germane to my original purpose in reaching out to fellow professionals, we are looking for effective ways to identify, track, and stay connected to these the students after they have graduated. We would like to closely follow these individuals through their careers so that we are on their radar screens as one of their top philanthropic causes BEFORE they acquire Major/Leadership capacity.

Thanks,

Wealth Tracker

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For this special Dear Analyst, we’ve asked three researchers for their input:

Dear Tracker,

To expose the students and families of the impact of philanthropy, you can do a few things. In their freshmen year, encourage a day of community service to some other organization, no monetary donation mentioned. This introduces the idea of giving back. DePaul did this a day before classes started, so it was easier for everyone to participate. Reach out to sophomores for a donation of $5 to the school and tell them why it matters to the university. Ask juniors for $10. Then the senior gift ($20.17, $20.18, etc.). I think this is a good introduction to giving and is manageable.

Loyola also does a special day in March (it was this past Wednesday) when they go to busy buildings and have giveaways to entice students to write brief thank you notes to donors. This day is done in March since that is when tuition payments run out, donor money is needed to keep the university functional. I love this idea and the students line up to write letters (they get a stuffed wolf and kettle corn).

In terms of tracking in the future, news alerts can be set up. A better strategy might be to keep an ongoing spreadsheet with their names. In five years, do a quick LinkedIn or Google search. If nothing comes up, keep the name on the list to check again in a year or so. This can be made manageable by checking on about 5 everyday; checking on 100 at once isn’t sustainable. If they have a fancy job now is the time to reach out. Build a relationship with emails/ letters early so a larger gift can be solicited in the future. (Jessica Szadziewicz, Prospect Management and Research Analyst, Loyola University)

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Dear Tracker,

I worked at two colleges that kept pretty strong FERPA boundaries, which meant we didn’t have access to student records. Both tried parent giving clubs. We often knew when alumni and non-alumni donors were sending their kids, so we’d mark the parents’ records accordingly, and then cross-reference the kids and the parents as soon as the kids became alumni and were added to our databases. Parent giving clubs were modestly successful – anecdotally, I’d guess they had better success if the kids were active in athletics or performing arts or some such – if there was a reason for parents to visit and be proud of their kid, that kept them giving throughout the four years and perhaps beyond; otherwise, it was often one-and-done or two-and-through.

For the second part of your question, my undergrad school’s alumni department started beating the drum during freshman orientation that tuition only covered 75% of an Elite University education with alumni giving making up the difference. That drum kept beating gently but persistently throughout the four years. Class gifts were pushed, and then both online directories and blurbs for the class notes in the alumni magazine were pushed. Donor circles had reduced rates for newer alumni; there would be class challenges, etc. Reunions are pushed hard every five years; local alumni clubs exist, mostly through the efforts of volunteer alumni with serious spirit and love for alma mater…  Now with LinkedIn and other forms of social media, it’s even easier for colleges to keep tabs on new alumni – if they join your school’s groups, you then have instant updates every time they change their page. (Bill Farr, Director of Prospect Research, Rush University Medical Center)

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Dear Tracker,

This is a unique group for your pipeline and it’s important to maintain your list within your database and not a separate spreadsheet. Give this group a code or flag to track in the database for reports. Plus, a special indicator on their record will remind anyone coming across their name they may not look like a prospect now, but there’s future potential. Have one person in the research or prospect management department take ownership and maintain this group. That person can set up news alerts and add the names into periodic screening batches. This ensures one person is always keeping them on the radar when there’s inevitable turnover. 

The ideal scenario is to outright rate and assign them to a major or annual gift officer’s portfolio with the relationship now focused on them and not their parents. Unfortunately, metrics will be a common reason given as to why they’re not contacting them annually or dropping them from portfolios. This group of alums is likely not going to meet major giving thresholds or be immediate dollars raised for annual goals. This is another good case to create a metric for cultivation and pipeline building. 

If you’re unable to assign them directly to a portfolio, send the names to your class reunion or other alumni relations colleagues. Keep them in your mind for all types of participation. Is a development officer traveling to their area? How about a quick coffee? Hosting a party in their city for incoming freshmen? Invite them to attend or participate in some way. Ultimately, building a relationship when they’re not giving and keeping them invested in their alma mater is key to cultivation and keeping you as one of their top philanthropic choices. (Angie Herrington, Development Associate, The Helen Brown Group)

Have a question for Dear Analyst? Email us at apraillinois@gmail.com or tweet at us @APRAIllinois

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