Ring Ring. My phone has been ringing once a week around 7 pm or later from an unknown 919-515-XXXX phone number. I do not answer. Why? Because I have a love/hate relationship with the call center at my undergraduate institution, NC State.
I learned my lesson last year about answering late night calls from unknown 919-515 numbers. Unfortunately, it is not someone calling to offer me a job. It is a student working what I believe is an incredibly hard job calling alumni and asking for donations. Giving back to a university is very important, and I think it is the approach that matters, especially when you are talking about young alumni. It was actually the Turkey Challenge posts on Facebook that finally got me to go on and make my small annual gift for the year.
My interactions with the NC State call center have been very interesting. As a student I heard from Kelly Hook (my SBP predecessor) about disappointing calls after graduation. I have also seen other negative posts about these phone calls on social media sites from classmates and friends. So what gives?
You need good and accurate data on current students so that you can make connections with them as alumni. This includes as much information as possible about student organization involvement, interests, and other activities that they participate in. Collecting this data requires partnerships with advancement and other offices on campus, including student life, recreation, arts, etc. It can also be aided by the use of technology, card swipes, student organization management systems, etc.
Then what do you do with the recent graduates? I have had conversations with current and past leadership at NC State and here is what I think:
1: If you’re going to call, the first phone call should be informational. Ask questions: Do they have a job? Are they in graduate school? Gather information but don’t make an ask
Disclaimer: I know it is hard to imagine using resources for a phone call and not making an ask, but trust me – I think that would be more beneficial than the damage done by calling and asking for $150, $250 dollars, etc.
2: When it is time to make an ask, whether it be the first phone call or the second, connect to their student experience and ask them to give to something they might be interested in. (Based on the data you collected and can see in their profile).
3: Rethink current programs and how to target recent graduates (philanthropy and millenials). The old ways won’t work. Come up with ways that recent graduates can work together to fundraise toward a cause!
Are you a recent graduate of an institution? Have you donated since you graduated? Why or why not?