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Case Study Donor Participation Project

W&M’s Successful Donor Participation Strategy

Video only available to Donor Participation Project members, send me an email at louis@marktlab.com to join.


Matthew Lambert, CEO, William & Mary Foundation, and Dan Frezza,  Associate Vice President for Strategic Operations & Annual Giving guided a Donor Participation Project session on the details of their successful alumni giving participation strategy during their last campaign.

Some interesting takeaways were:

  • Every donor interaction mentioned the three campaign goals of increasing alumni engagement, increasing alumni giving participation, and reaching the campaign’s dollar goal.
  • They exploded their alumni engagement from about 10,000 touchpoints with alumni per year at the start of the campaign to over 30,000 by the last year of the campaign.
  • They grew their Class Ambassadors program from 200 to over 800 volunteers.
  • Their Giving Day also grew exponentially, and they viewed it as both an engagement and giving participation opportunity.
  • Leadership (President, Board, VP Advancement) must make participation a priority.
  • It is not a matter of either raising given dollar amounts OR achieving a participation goal, it has to be seen as giving AND participation.
  • Success requires a broad-based focus, across campus.
  • Diversification of the donor base is key (i.e. women in philanthropy, underrepresented populations).
  • The main indicators of giving habits are: giving history, consistency, frequency, and gift amount.
  • You must choose one among these three high-level goals: Retention, Reactivation, Acquisition. It will most likely be Retention.
  • With Reactivation, time is not on your side. After 5 years, donors are as likely to come back as a non-donor.
  • In the Acquisition bucket, newly graduated students were an important source of growth.
  • Key drivers of their success were: increased retention (year over year giving), increased gift frequency (within a year), stewardship of good behavior (i.e. consecutive giving society).

Learn more about the Donor Participation Project and sign up here.