THE CHALLENGE

The University of Sheffield Alumni Fund provides scholarships, enriches the student experience, and enhances academics through grants to departments. Seeking to strengthen the fund and the valuable initiatives it supports through regular giving, the University hired GG+A to evaluate its program and offer recommendations for a road map forward.

OUR APPROACH

GG+A reviewed the University’s regular giving materials and conducted one-on-one interviews with key members of leadership, administration, and staff. Drawing on the firm’s broad experience helping universities assess their potential fundraising capacity, we recommended near- and long-term enhancements to Sheffield’s Alumni Fund program.

Based on our observations, research, and experience, GG+A suggested strategies to:

  • Redefine the University’s approach to regular giving, thoughtfully assessing goals and considering the impact of the Alumni Fund on the University
  • Improve the balance of phone and mail solicitations, considering the costs and benefits of each and focusing on donors with the greatest likelihood of participating
  • Explore ways to automate donations, sending more emails, enhancing the Alumni Fund’s website, and launching a paperless direct-deposit system
  • Enhance the language used by the solicitation team, using marketing best practices to motivate donors with a clear and visionary description of the University’s ambitions

RESULTS

The University adopted each of GG+A’s recommendations and saw immediate results. Namely, the report provided added impetus to the University to link the regular giving team with the major gifts team, aligning them more closely under unified leadership. The University also rebalanced the use of mail and phone solicitations, putting volunteers to work more strategically. It adjusted the language used to position the Alumni Fund, and subsequent direct mailing was the most successful ever. To continue to develop a robust Alumni Fund, the University has engaged GG+A to provide ongoing consultation.