In the world of Greek fundraising, it seems everyone’s looking for the special sauce that leads to a successful campaign.
Is it having the right team members with winning personalities and a can-do attitude? Is it the magic between donors and projects that clicks in a way no one can predict? Perhaps it’s a little of both--but the real key to successful fundraising is more of a science than just a good feeling.
The simple trick to skyrocket your Greek fundraising donations is one that hones in on the psyche of the donor. And it’s a concept known all too well in Greek fundraising compared to other nonprofit fundraising.
If there’s one constant in Greek life, from the moment you enter into fraternity or sorority recruitment as a potential new member to each step of your Greek and collegiate life, it’s competition.
Interestingly, the competition inherent to Greek life is with your peers and friends, not against adversaries or enemies. In this friendly competition, we learn a few things about each other. We learn how to work together for the greater good of the chapter. Once alumni, we carry that competitive can-do attitude with us to help us in our careers.
Alumni also have found competition to be a key factor in Greek fundraising initiatives, too. It’s not based on feelings or magic. There is no secret sauce. It’s based on science.
The Psychology of Charitable Giving
Donors are primarily motivated by three factors when choosing who, how much, and when to donate. Tapping into these factors when soliciting funds for either annual giving or a capital campaign can make the difference in missing your goal completely or surpassing it.
- Altruism--When a donor gives for the better good for all, and is rewarded by a feeling of responsibility, support, and their ability to help others. A person motivated by pure altruism feels the same way about donating to a pet relief organization as they do about paying their taxes. The reward is in the fact that they were able to contribute.
- Altruism with Agency--In this theory, people derive pleasure from choosing where their donations go. Perhaps they look for specific projects or causes. They take pride in their ability to give to whomever that choose. Needless to say, these people don’t feel the same about their taxes as they do about donating to a capital campaign for a new chapter house.
- Competitive Status--A third category of donors are motivated by competition and recognition for their donations. It can be seen as a marker of status to give large amounts to certain projects. Of course, in this group, although the impetus may be competition, that competition is what opens the door to Greek fundraising success.
- A Combination of All Three--The ideal donor is spurred by competition, but will give again and again because of the rewards that come from giving. They feel as though their gift makes a difference, that they matter, and that they’ve given out of their own free choice.
Practical Steps to Secure Donors Using Competition
First of all, acknowledge that your donors are being asked to donate from many different organizations. Churches, elementary schools, charities, and yes--their college chapter of their fraternity or sorority--would like to call them a regular giver. The key to gaining alumni who will give over and over is to secure their place, competitively, above their peers.
How do you do that?
Perfect your Ask
First, perfect your ask. Create an “elevator pitch” where members can succinctly state the need, in the amount of time you’d expect to spend in an elevator with a potential donor. Then go forth, and request donations with confidence. Weave a competitive narrative. Discuss goals, how many people have given so far--without naming names--and showcase the status that comes with giving to your cause. After fostering a competitive environment, the next step is to communicate the successes of your fundraising drive. When potential donors who may be on the fence see who else is giving, it can be the slight psychological nudge needed to get them on board.
By setting up a system that sorts donors by levels of giving, you can create a culture of friendly competition between alumni. When potential donors see the names of their roommate, pledge sister, or Big Brother high on the donor list, that conditioned friendly competition kicks in. It’s simple. Seeing others give more is a psychological push for that potential donor to become a regular supporter.
Regularly Publish an Updated Donor List
Once the levels of donation are created and the donor names are sorted, there’s no reason to keep that information a secret. Encourage donors to have pride in their gift, and thank them,publicly and privately. For organizations that may shy away from publishing donors under specific labels, consider creating giving categories. This can establish accountability and encourage donors to give more.
Follow Up, Publicly Thank, and Treat People Well
Communication between alumni, current chapter members, and potential donors to your Greek fundraising drive is a primary key to encouraging a competitive spirit. Your potential donors must be kept up to date with the progress of your drive. Thank them publicly, and show genuine enthusiasm for the people who are supporting your chapter. In this way, you can create better relationships with current donors, expand your circle, and spread goodwill to all donors.
How Can Pennington Help Your Chapter?
Here at Pennington & Company, we are the Greek community’s expert resource for communication and fundraising assistance. Our experience in successful alumni communication and engagement have helped over 800 chapters raise more than $715 million since 1994.
Why is that important to you?
We can help your chapter with alumni communications in a way you might have not considered. We can provide:
- Print newsletters
- Digital newsletters
- Member management
In all of these areas, we can help you toot your own horn when it comes to successful fundraising. Share your donation information to inspire friendly competition. Push current donors to give more, and inspire potential givers to write a check.
We’re here for you. Contact us at 785-843-1661 or learn more at penningtonco.com. We can’t wait to help you grow your donor base.