Fraternity fundraising is doable within the chapter itself with a number of different short-term or small-scale projects. Say you’re running a car wash, a raffle, a 5k, or a live music event to raise money for a local charity for children with disabilities. That’s well within your chapter fundraising chair’s purview.
When your chapter decides to take on a fraternity house renovation or building project, creating an endowment fund or another large-scale, long-term fundraising effort, it’s unlikely the chapter is up to the task. For one thing, a chapter has many goals and projects going on at the same time. Attention is divided between managing the chapter and finances, social and academic goals, recruitment and more.
When the planning, fundraising and execution of a chapter house renovation will take multiple years and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, there’s simply no way undergraduate chapter members can dedicate the necessary resources on their own for that amount of time. Brothers also lack the necessary expertise to undertake this kind of project. This is likely true even with the guidance of their housing committee, who are not by their nature fundraising experts.
However, there are dedicated fundraising experts out there who understand what building and executing a successful capital campaign means, and who are fully dedicated to helping your chapter achieve your goals. Yet not all fundraising companies are created equal. As one such company, without tooting our own horn too much (okay, maybe just a little), Pennington & Company would like to talk about What to Look for in a Fraternity Fundraising company.
Alumni Should Love Your Fraternity Fundraising Company
Alumni love you undergraduate brothers.
Well, sort of. Don’t push it.
But do they love the company doing your fundraising? This is probably one of the most crucial aspects when it comes to hiring someone to assist with a capital campaign, since alumni are likely to be your primary donors. If a company guides your fundraising in a way that annoys and harasses your alumni, leaving them confused and annoyed, that’s obviously bad news. Your donations are going to suffer big-time as a result.
What kind of fraternity fundraising company are alumni willing to do business with? How do undergraduate brothers foster the love? First, the company should focus on improving weaknesses in alumni relations, and that reaches well beyond your current capital fundraising campaign. It means, for instance, crafting a strong fraternity alumni newsletter that engages alumni and acknowledges their efforts on behalf of the chapter. The company should also demonstrate a genuine engagement with the fundraising project, focusing on what motivates certain alumni to give and being clear about the project goals, plans and costs. They’ll bridge giving between alumni and the chapter by helping create a landing webpage with easy access to payments and information about the fundraising and project goals.
Finally, fundraising experts should be able to present alumni with options to entice them to give, such as recurring and automated donations for alumni.
Speaking of Love: a Good Fraternity Fundraising Company Won’t Lead You on
You’ll want your fundraising consultants to give your chapter a clear concept of what lies ahead before embarking on a major capital campaign together. That means they’ll do a feasibility study to lay out your fraternity chapter’s likely path to success, researching the marketplace and itemizing the costs. They’ll tell you straight out if they think your fundraising has the potential to succeed, and they won’t set you up for failure just to make a quick buck.
Through constant scrutiny of a capital campaign and reporting on its progress, a fundraising company worthy of your chapter’s time and investment will give you a clear path forward. They won’t lure you in by suggesting every alumnus will give wads of cash as soon as you mention the word “fundraising.”
In fact, it’s important that fundraising consultants give you a sober, realistic view of alumni giving as a whole. Likely only a handful of alumni are going to cover the majority of your fundraising efforts, with many others giving smaller amounts or not giving at all, as is their prerogative. Even without setbacks, a capital campaign of this scale can take years to complete. You and your fundraising consultants both need to be in this for the long haul.
A Fraternity Fundraising Company Should Prove Their Worth Every Day
Of course they should prove their worth to your chapter during a capital campaign, but good fundraising consultants will also have a proven track record. That doesn’t mean their company needs to have been around since the dawn of civilization. Relatively newer companies often have a lot to prove, too, and are willing to put in the effort to make a name for themselves.
Depending on the scale of your campaign, you may want to seek out companies who’ve gotten good reviews from other fraternity chapters, perhaps a company your national organization has worked with before.
Call up other chapter presidents. Call housing committees and alumni associations. Ask them what it was like working with these consultants. If you don’t have any particular company in mind, target fraternity chapters whose house renovations you found particularly impressive and ask who worked with them.
If you’re going to hire a brand-spanking-new company without much of a track record, look into the people who work for the company. Look at their education and experience in the field. What services do they offer versus their competitors? You can always call them up and ask these kinds of questions, respectfully and honestly. For local companies, go sit down and have a chat with them in person. If they can’t answer these basic questions for you, they’re probably not going to be a good fit for your fundraising campaign.
Pennington & Company believe we have the qualities to suit your fraternity fundraising needs, and we’d love to hear what you’re looking for in a fraternity fundraising company. Let us know in the comments below!