February 15, 2018—Ruffalo Noel Levitz, leading provider of higher education fundraising, student success, and enrollment services, released today results from a study of college and university fundraisers. Key findings indicate large and comprehensive fundraising campaigns will continue to expand and raise record-setting totals, but many institutions may struggle to plan and support these efforts in the face of increased pressure and a changing donor population. As institutions’ fundraising goals increase, large campaigns are seen as a must-have strategy.
The study draws from an online survey administered in December 2017 to 598 fundraising professionals and includes additional data sources and interview responses to uncover current practices and growth opportunities in higher education campaigns.
Analysis of survey results revealed five key challenges as reported by higher education advancement professionals:
- Large-scale campaigns continue to grow in scope and last longer.
- Institutions now rely on multi-year campaigns to meet multiple goals, campaigns have expanded to include current-use funds as well as permanent support.
- Fundraisers want to see more investment in resources and staff training to better support large campaigns.
- Most institutions are challenged to integrate new marketing channels to reach new donors.
- Fundraisers want to meet their campaign goals but also want to focus on a quality donor experience.
“This study takes a deeper look into the trend of mega-campaigns in higher education and where they’re set to go next,” says Brian Gawor, CFRE and vice president for research at Ruffalo Noel Levitz. “The fundraisers we surveyed reported they want to increase the effectiveness of their campaigns by providing a better donor experience and leveraging data and new marketing tactics. Campaigns aren’t just about posting big gift totals. They are also about listening to donors—and making them part of the conversation. The challenge for colleges and universities—and their fundraisers—will be to invest in the right resources to connect with the right donors to meet growing expectations.”
Campuswide challenges such as stagnant enrollment growth and rising student financial aid coupled with shifting alumni and donor preferences have created even more pressure on institutions to reach growing fundraising needs.
“Fundraisers are being challenged to accomplish more while adapting to a rapidly changing environment,” says Caryn D. Stein, vice president of marketing for Ruffalo Noel Levitz. “The most successful institutions are those who can focus their resources more intelligently, using data and a modern multichannel approach to reach the right donors at the right time through the right channels. Ruffalo Noel Levitz is able to help fundraisers scale to meet increased demand and better connect with donors through actionable insights we’ve gained from the millions of alumni engage to create meaningful impact for colleges and universities around the world.”
About Ruffalo Noel Levitz
Ruffalo Noel Levitz is the leading provider of higher education enrollment, student success, and fundraising solutions. The firm serves more than 1,900 colleges and universities through data-driven solutions focused on the entire lifecycle of enrollment and fundraising, assuring students find the right program, graduate on time, secure their first job in their chosen field, and give back to support the next generation. With a deep knowledge of the industry, Ruffalo Noel Levitz provides institutions the ability to scale their efforts by tapping into a community of support and resources.