A Millennial’s Perception of Private School Fundraising

August 30, 2018 Liza Thompson

Millennials celebrating at a private school fundraising party.

As a recent graduate of Ashley Hall in Charleston, South Carolina, I fit the target demographic in Joe Garecht’s eBook, Supercharged Millennial Fundraising: An Advanced Guide to Engaging Young Alumni in Development. While many may feel that millennial fundraising isn’t worth the effort, I agree with Joe’s assessment that it is important to engage alumni early on, and I’d take it a step further and say these efforts should begin while they are still students to make them feel valued and thus more willing to donate.

Ashley Hall excels at engaging young alumni, largely due to the bi-annual phonathons that I was involved in throughout high school. In addition to improving Ashley Hall’s annual fund donation total by 48 percent in the first three years, the phonathon experience of speaking on the phone with adults also helps students develop valuable skills. What's more, students gain an appreciation for the critical role donations play in making Ashley Hall unique by helping to fund programs such as the Lower School Bee Club, Senior Projects, and many of the travel opportunities that tuition cannot cover.

Now that I’m an alumna of Ashley Hall, I see more examples of the millennial fundraising tips Joe suggested playing out. For example, experiential fundraising is realized with Ashley Hall’s Loyalty Fund, where alumnae re-connect with old classmates to help raise donations. This program works both ways because the participating alumnae aren’t going to ask their friends to donate it they haven’t already done so themselves.

Joe also wrote about using email to drive millennial fundraising. Ashley Hall does a great job of this because they send a fair amount of emails without blowing up our inboxes. As a young alumna, I’ll admit that email is not my favorite form of communication, but I truly enjoy reading emails about what is happening on campus, upcoming events, and of course, the throwback photos of alumnae when they were students.

Joe also mentioned offering crowdfunding perks, which immediately made me think of something very close to every Ashley Hall girl’s heart. During our time at school, each student is assigned to the “purple” or “white” teams that compete in many different activities—field day, academic bowls, etc. The team with the most points at the end of the year wins the cup. When alumnae make donations to the school, Ashley Hall gives points to the team they were on, which is the best perk for any of us.

As with any school, I’m sure there are areas Ashley Hall could improve upon to increase donations from alumnae—especially young ones. Even though Ashley Hall follows a lot of the tips Joe provides, I know that many of my classmates still fail to understand the importance of getting in the habit of giving by starting now.

However, as the Student Loyalty Fund at Ashley Hall does so effectively, it is important to show students the impact of giving before they become alumnae. I’m grateful I had the opportunity to learn these lessons, and now I know that even my small annual gift—as a college student, I can only offer ten dollars—makes a difference.

I look forward to increasing my involvement and philanthropy for the school that gave me sixteen years of education as well as continuing to encourage my classmates to do the same. 

About the Author

Liza Thompson

Liza offers her perspective as a former Ashley Hall student. A current student at Lafayette College, she is interning with the Blackbaud K-12 Marketing Group.

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