Fundraising Talks
News and updates from the USM Office of Advancement Research
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Looking for funding opportunities? We've identified a few funds that might be useful to you. Visit the links below to learn more about the requirements and deadlines for these opportunities. 
November 2
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 Sapna Varghese

Director of Advancement Research 



Raechel Winder
Office Clerk

Letter from the Director

Dear Colleagues,
As prospect researchers and fundraising professionals, we need to cultivate and steward our existing donors to improve donor retention rates and develop long-term and committed supporters to our institutions. To do so,  we must understand certain details about our donors. Donor databases contain a wealth of data about our constituents, which when applied effectively, can be used to deliver success in fundraising activities.
What are some details that prospect researchers and fundraisers need to know about our donors now that may lead to improved donor retention rates in the future?  A blog post from  says fundraisers need to pay attention to average gift size, preferred giving channel, communication style, philanthropic interests, and employer information. 
  • Understanding the size of the average annual gift made by a donor may help determine a solicitation amount for future gifts. 
  • Donors may have certain giving preferences when donating to your organization, such as online giving or direct mail response. Knowing how donors made their charitable contributions in the past will help determine how they prefer to contribute in the future. 
  • To take it a step further, fundraisers should know what methods of communication their universities are using with their donors-does it align with the donor's preferred methods of communication? 
  • Identifying the philanthropic interests of donors by looking at their past giving to your institution and other organizations will allow fundraisers to solicit donors to give to similar projects of their interest areas. 
  • Lastly, institutions that capture employer information of donors in their databases are better able to engage them for matching gift programs and thereby increase the dollar value contributed by them. 
In September, we said goodbye to Nell Walker, who worked for the USM as a prospect researcher since 2012. Nell will be taking a job as Senior Prospect Research Analyst at The George Mason University Antonin School of Law, which is a short five minute commute from Nell's home and a wonderful opportunity for her.
If you know of anyone who is looking for work as a prospect researcher, please feel free to forward them the job posting. As always, please feel free to reach out to us with questions, comments or any assistance with prospect research!
Best Regards,
Sapna and USM Advancement Research Team

According to Key Challenges Reported by Major and Planned Giving Professionals, a report from Ruffalo Noel Levitz, traditional approaches to fundraising management are not meeting new challenges in higher education. The results of this report were informed by a survey administered to 270 gift officers this past spring. This survey's results yielded five major challenges to an institution's fundraising goals. Of the five challenges, the number one challenge fundraisers face is lack of time due to prospect pools that are too large and time that is too limited. This article by eCampus News outlines these five challenges and three recommendations for fundraising management.
When measuring the results of annual giving efforts, it's difficult to narrow down which metrics to focus on. It's tempting to dive into the details, but it's more important to articulate your progress in a clear and concise way. This blog post by AGN urges fundraising professionals to start with the five basics-revenue, donors, participation, retention, and leadership giving- the most important metrics in annual giving. 

Institutions seeking charitable contributions from donors will be more successful if they have a well-considered plan and process in place, according to a report commissioned by MarketSmart. Furthermore, tracking digital engagement of your donors may help your institution reach potential donors. According to the report, only 22% of responding institutions and organizations track digital engagement. By tracking digital engagement, a fundraiser could determine that a potential donor consistently opens emails from their institution, which could be a sign that this person could be cultivated for future donations. Read more findings here.

The ultra-wealthy are allocating more of their money to equities and less to hedge funds and real estate this year, according to a survey by UBS Wealth Management and Campden Research. Equities accounted for 27.1 percent of the average family office portfolio and equities allocation rose about 1.6 percentage points against the prior annual report. In comparison, alternative investments, such as real estate purchases and hedge funds, saw an overall 3.7 percentage decrease. More results of the survey can be found here.
Do donors trust your institution to spend their gifts wisely? In 2015, one-third of Americans reported that they thought charities were spending funds unwisely. Yet in a 2017 Global Trends in Giving Report that surveyed over 4,000 people from 95 countries, 92 percent still believe that nonprofits are ethical and can be trusted. With these varying opinions, how can our institutions make donors feel comfortable and inspired to give? The answer may lie in digital crowdsourcing with platforms such as Facebook, GoFundMe, and Twitter. 75% of respondents said that they rely on social media to feel connected. The majority of respondents to the survey were interested in "gamifying" their engagement with a mobile app that allows two-tap giving that earns badges and redeemable points. Read more here.