Education Sector

Fundraising Tips

Philanthropy and marketing in the Education Sector is dynamic and exciting. Schools and universities across the country are achieving new levels of success, particularly in the area of online fundraising. They are also out performing other sectors in a range of areas including capital campaigns, major gifts and bequests.

OKP have developed this tip sheet to help fundraisers in the education make the most of the opportunities available to them and overcome barriers that challenge their success and achievement of their vision.


Fundraising Tips:

Take Advantage of Opportunities Online
Recent data obtained through our Giving Trends research inititave revealed that 69% of schools, universities and other educational institutions are not actively raising money online. This represents a significant missed opportunity to more effectively engage with both existing and prospective supporters. Over the last 12 months, OKP has helped a number of clients in the Education Sector achieve unprecedented fundraising results by integrating online activity into their annual fundraising and capital campaigns. One of our clients, a school in Sydney attracted a $1 Million major gift from a donor responding to an eDM (an email appeal letter).

  2. Get Personal
While online activity is an effective way to increase fundraising success, it should compliment rather than replace the more traditional methods we know get results. Personal approaches, in particular, continue to be one of the most effective ways to engage donors and secure their financial support. It is also a very valuable way to get feedback on your fundraising and communication activity and determine whether you are hitting the mark with your target audience. We suggest that fundraisers set themselves a weekly or monthly target for one-on-one meetings or conversations with prospective donors. Having a goal will enable you to focus on the task and prioritise it accordingly.

  3. Create a Compelling Case For Support
In our experience at OKP working with the education sector, disappointing fundraising results can almost always be traced back to a non-existent or underdeveloped case for support. Whether you are engaged in annual appeals, capital appeals, endowment, online, bequest or major gift fundraising, it is absolutely essential that you have determined a compelling case for support. You need to know what your vision is and how to communicate it to your supporters in a way that will educate, inspire and compel them to give. The case for support does not necessarily have to be the printed brochure you would see used in a capital campaign, it may just be an internal document which ensures clear and consistent messaging across all your fundraising activities and communication.

  4. Expand Your Prospect List
Schools, universities and educational institutions are fortunate to have a pool of students and their families, staff and alumni who are often highly engaged and personally impacted by their relationship with the institution. However, they are not the only source of prospective donors. There is increasing public awareness about the role education and academic research has to play in making the world a better place. Showing the wider community how your fundraising contributes to this higher ideal, presents a wonderful opportunity to attract support from a much larger pool of prospective donors and promote more widely why giving to education matters.

  5. Consider cultural diversity
Australia is one of the world’s most culturally and linguistically diverse countries, yet diversity is not something often considered when it comes to fundraising and donor communication. For those willing to be pioneers, there are valuable opportunities to engage new audiences and increase support. Culturally diverse fundraising requires a sensitive and respectful approach that incorporates careful research, consultation and open-mindedness. You need to make the effort to learn about and understand cultural differences and not make assumptions or generalizations that are counterproductive. In order to be successful, you must adjust your communication and fundraising activities to the customs, frames of reference, and sensibilities of the cultural groups you wish to engage. One of our clients, with a high proportion of Chinese students, significantly increased their annual fundraising income by simply having their appeal letters transferred into Mandarin.

  OKP: Passion. Philanthropy. Performance.
O’Keefe & Partners (OKP) has carved out an enviable reputation built on passion, integrity and performance. Since its inception in the 80’s, OKP has partnered a diverse range of global and domestic businesses with an interest in philanthropy, community-business partnerships, employee engagement, community and alumni fundraising. The company’s overarching focus is pioneering change, capacity building and advancement.

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