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Repurpose an Underperforming Fundraiser

Looking to expand your donor base? Of course you are. Have you ever considered trying to re-purpose one of your underperforming fundraisers to do what they might be good at?

A few years back, Claremont Community College did. They took an admittedly less than stellar fundraiser and brainstormed with her at what she might be good at within the fundraising function. Lo and behold, guess what? They announced a new position based on their findings.

This “lousy fundraiser” was given a new title based upon her self-proclaimed skill set: Director of Listening! Just like that, a new alumni outreach program was developed.

An “alumni interview” project was set up to get feedback from graduates and potential donors on a variety of subjects, including how they would prefer to be contacted: direct mail, email, Facebook? The director also trained her staff of recent college graduates and students to find out whether or not alumni were hoping for more or less interaction with the staff.

Alumni interviewers are finding out all kinds of useful information by listening to the feedback they’re receiving. For example, they’re learning about alumni interests, how they feel about the college and what might potentially motivate them to contribute.

The important point to make here, I think, is that the interviewers are listening without asking for money. In fact, interviewers are specifically told to let alumni know up front that the call isn’t a solicitation for support, but rather an effort to better get to know graduates who may not have heard from the college in years.

While the college is hoping to learn about individual alumni, a larger goal of the project is to find recurring themes and trends among alumni who may share certain characteristics. The result has been that more is being learned about what interests and appeals to certain alumni, say, female sociology majors who graduated in the 90s.

Anyone else doing anything similarly “out of the ordinary”? The readers of this blog would love to hear about it, I’m sure.

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