Major Gift Fundraising with Fraternity Alumni

Posted by admin on Aug 10, 2018 7:18:41 AM

What really motivates donors? The Omega chapter of Alpha Beta Theta is clearly worthy of support, but brothers won’t give simply because the Fraternity is worthy, they will give because of their own needs. For every donor, there are personal rewards associated with making a gift. Your job is to help the potential donor explore the rewards he will receive from supporting the Fraternity.

Never feel that your request for a gift is an imposition; in fact, you are presenting a valuable opportunity for the alumnus to gain an internal reward while helping the Chapter. Here are some personal rewards that do motivate your potential donor toward making a gift.

Personal memories and loyalty.
Alumni recollections of their time at college clearly cause nostalgia. Many will give to express sentimental tribute, and to celebrate the years and experiences they enjoyed with their brothers.

Honoring the past.
Some donors will give in order to feel part of something larger than themselves: the Chapter’s rich history.

Rescuing the present.
The current undergraduates have built an excellent Chapter. Some donors will feel motivated by the opportunity to immediately affect the undergraduates’ environment in this way.

Ensuring the future.
The Chapter’s future success largely rests with the condition of the Chapter house. Success in gaining new members is strongly correlated with perceptions of the house. Some donors will want to help shape the future with their gift.

Paying back a debt.
The Fraternity left its mark on every brother, and in some cases may have had a profound effect on the prospect’s personal development. Their desire to make a personal ‘thank you’ can be a powerful motivator.

Supporting the Fraternity as an educational institution.
The fraternity is uniquely suited to teach young men leadership, responsibility, social behavior, brotherhood, etc., and some alumni will give to that concept out of a desire to support education in general.

Owning the project.
Some will give because of their previous or current involvement. These donors will realize that if they, as insiders, don’t give then neither will anyone more distant from the project.

Involvement with peers.
Many people donate because they want to be in good company. Major prospects often become major donors because they like being associated with other people who have the resources to ‘make things happen.’ The campaign provides an opportunity to once again “pull together” for a common goal.

Personal pride is a common motivator for many donors. Understandably, they want to be recognized for doing a good deed, or they desire the internal rewards that come from leaving some tangible mark on an institution. For the same reasons, some donors prefer to memorialize not themselves, but someone else they care about.

Interfraternity rivalry.
A fact of life at the undergraduate level, this concept softens somewhat among alumni. But the knowledge that other houses on campus have renovated or rebuilt may pique some donors’ conviction that the chapter must keep up.

Identification with a winner.
Identification is the sense that ‘if this project succeeds, then I succeed.’ The possibility of being associated with a winning effort will motivate donors just as it does sports fans. Remember that the Fraternity is a reflection of its members; in improving its image the members are improving their own.

Respect for the solicitor.
Last but definitely not least, some potential donors will give to express their regard for the solicitor: “If you’re involved with it, the project must be a good thing.” Your own commitment and enthusiasm are both critical and infectious.

10 Keys to Success:

  1. Be your own best donor. Make your own gift first, as this will help you solicit with greater conviction and sincerity. Tremendous momentum will be given to the campaign when all volunteers have signed and turned in their own commitments.
  2. Plan your solicitations so that you will have completed all pledge cards and returned them within the called for time frame. Take your time with each contact; don’t rush yourself or your donor.
  3. Know the campaign facts cold. Study the brochure, case statement, and recent newsletters and use them to illustrate your points. If you don’t know the answer to a question, find out and get back to the donor at your earliest convenience.
  4. Go first to those you know will give the most, then work down the giving pyramid.
  5. Make a pleasing, confident approach. Sell the deeds their contribution will bring to the donor, not the needs of the chapter house. Point out how this campaign will affect the future of the chapter and the young brothers to come.
  6. Plan your phone calls and personal visits. “Plan your work and work your plan.” Always solicit a potential donors in groups of two, preferably with a peer as one of the solicitation team.
  7. Never argue, always agree. Affirm any objection or criticism. Back off and suggest you will find the answer to his questions or objections. If you know the answer, calmly give the explanation and then be quiet. Talk 10%, listen 90%.
  8. How much? You must let the potential donor know how they fit into the plan with a specific ask amount. “Phil, I hope you will join with me in support of the chapter house renovation project and that you will consider a gift of $ . . ..” Think of yourself as a partner in helping the donor decide what is best.
  9. Report your progress to the campaign office. Send in a report for each contact, no matter how brief or seemingly insignificant. Maintain the contact sheet to track your progress, and most importantly, when a pledge is made, immediately send in the signed card.
  10. Have fun along the way. Look at this process as having a conversation with a friend, a brother in your Fraternity. You will enjoy the process as much as the accomplishment of reaching your goal. Don’t take the project or yourself too seriously. This isn’t rocket science. Have a good time.

Charles W. "Chuck" Larson, CFRE was formerly a campaign director at Custom Development Solutions, Inc. CDS is among the most sought after fundraising consulting firms specializing in the strategic planning and tactical execution of capital campaigns for non-profits throughout the United States and Canada. More information on CDS can be found on the web at If you have a fundraising question, please call CDS at 800-761-3833 or send an email to

Topics: alumni giving, Capital Campaigns, Communications and Networking, fraternity alumni donations, fraternity giving, Fundraising Principles, Major Gifts

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