Daily archives "February 5, 2012"

Collegiate Donation Campaigns – Let’s get it right .edu?!

Matt Riggleman 1 Comment

You’ve just graduated from a college or other institution.

You head home and you’re feeling good – about yourself and the experiences you just put behind you. Your family and friends stop at a steakhouse – bill is on them for all the hard work you put in.

Bank is knocking down your door – just a heads up – now that you’re into the real world, you’re going to have to start paying for that 4 years of fun & learning. You’ve heard of loan consolidation…you’re going to have to get on that.

You’re sending out resumes to jobs you’re not even sure you want to do.

And, you get a letter in the mail from the place you just graduated from.

“That’s cool, ” you say to no one in particular. “They’re checking up to see how I’m making out..and it’s only been a month.”

But that’s not the case at all.

Littered with checkboxs..your .edu of choice (EOC) is asking, sincerely, if you could find it in your heart to throw a couple extra bucks their way.

Think about this for minute. When is the last time you put $40,000 on credit, then the creator of said debt asks you for a couple bucks on the side out of the goodness of your heart?

After picking your jaw up off the floor, you state, again to no one in particular, “But I’m already in debt 40 grand to these guys… what more do they want from me..¬†expletive, expletive, expletive.”

And you resolve to never even consider donating anything to your alma mater again.

So let’s take a step back here and consider what could be changed to make things a little more friendly.

4 Things College Donation Programs Could Do Better

1. Spend Your Marketing Budget Better

Frankly, the fact that I begin getting bombarded with college donation requests right out of the gate kind of makes me feel a little less confident in the education I just received. Can’t this place of higher education take a look at some analytics? Presumably, most college donations come from older people…and more specifically, older people with nothing left to spend their money on. At that point the college’s marketing campaign is basically a “Don’t Forget Us In Your Will” kinda thing. How ’bout you reallocate your marketing budget towards them..and give me a few years of breathing room? Or, better yet, roll that marketing budget back into helping the students you want me to donate to.

2. Allow Me The Opt Out

I know, I should be overjoyed at the education I received and feel an overwhelming urge of reciprocity to give back, just like others gave back for me, but frankly, at this point I want my space. It’s kind of like a break-up…sure, we had some great times and you helped me experience a lot, but I’m not ready to run into you on the street yet. Put the direct mail on hold.

3. Additional Buttering Up

This is the marketing equivalent of sending a gift card to your best customers at Christmas. Colleges try to do this, and admittedly, it does continue a bit after graduation, but keep hitting me with it. I can think of at least 20 things I needed help with after I graduated that my EOC didn’t really beat me over the head with post-grad. In no particular order – Additional real-life advice or contacts regarding my field (not necessarily even for a job, just advice), budgeting for loans, house, family, etc., practical real-world instruction in things like dealing with bosses, clients, figuring out the most direct path out of Mom’s house..Determining how to feed yourself without a meal plan etc. etc. We are more educated than the majority of folks, but we’re people too. Creating a network of practical transition assistance – BEFORE asking me for money – would have made me a little more likely to give back.

4. College Isn’t Cancer

Colleges use donations to help acquire new students and give¬†scholarships, and that’s great. However, isn’t a plan that revolves so much around the altruism of its former students doomed to fail? College made all who attended better, more thoughtful & more potentially giving people – of that I have no doubt. We should want to give back to those that helped us. But it’s tough to give to an educational organization when organizations that hit home a little harder – like Cancer charities – are always looking for the same thing. We are taught to make as large an impact on the world we live in as possible – are we truly maximizing that impact by donating to our alma mater? Seems like the collegiate business model has to adapt a bit to rely less on donation (though I know that means higher tuition). Or to look at it another way – What means more to society – feeding 100 Rwandan children – or making it a little cheaper for an intelligent American to attend college? Seems like a tough call.

Ok, </rant> over. Enjoy the Superbowl (Giants +5)…

MR