Tips for engaging student families in advancement campaigns

Tips for engaging student familiesStudent families can represent a key constituency for your advancement campaigns. While a lot of development efforts focus on alumni or corporate gifts, the parents and relatives of existing students can be very supportive too. Even better, they are typically easy to identify and replenish every year.

However, this audience can have very different interests and motivations, too, which advancement professionals should take note of. In this article, we share tactics to help you engage student families and generate more advancement revenue.

Focus on the campus experience

Parents and relatives of your students have some different motivations than other constituents. One thing that often drives them is ensuring a safe, comfortable, and memorable campus experience.

Because of this, student families often like to support initiatives that improve day-to-day campus life. This could include building renovations, creating new outdoor spaces, improved dining, and security enhancements.

When you’re launching a campaign to support projects like these, be sure to include student families in your outreach. They will have a better probability of becoming engaged and making a contribution.

Promote your school’s reputation

It’s common that parents can be more proud of the schools their children attend than the students themselves! That’s why t-shirts and bumper sticker that declare them a parent of a “Fill-in-the-Blank” University student are such big sellers.

This can be an important tool to include in your communications to student families. Be sure to include positive rankings, news and quotes about your school in your messaging whenever you can. The more work you can do to promote the school’s reputation and how your projects can impact it, the more likely they are to get involved. 

Note the best times of year to engage student families

One difference between typical advancement constituents like alumni and student families is when they are most likely to give.

Alumni frequently make donations at times that are specifically relevant to your school. This could be around Homecoming each year, or at the anniversary of significant campus events. 

For student families, the best times of year to engage are more consistent across the board. They will often be compelled to give when their student is starting a new school year or at the end of a successful semester. Similar to general giving behavior, they are also very likely to give at holidays and the year-end.

Putting extra effort into your communications at these times can help convert these student family donors and give your advancement department more year-round support.

Enable both online and offline giving

While most students and new alumni are now very comfortable giving online, not all of their parents and other family members will be. That’s why it’s important that you can easily process donations made by both online and offline payments.

You should be able to accurately accept gifts made my check or on the phone, and effectively track them in your donor management solution. You should also ensure that your online giving forms are simple and professional, to help encourage anyone nervous about giving online that it will be safe and reliable.

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