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Participation percentages

  • 1.  Participation percentages

    Posted 21 days ago
    Hello everyone, 

    Reaching out for input on what other organizations are doing. 

    When we report our participation #'s for alumni, grandparents and parents of alumni, we run our initial constituent count based on if they are "contactable"​, meaning we have an email address or a mailing address on file for them. What this does is it changes our initial count quite a bit, for example if we run our actual "all living alumni" query, the constituent count is lets say 8k. When we run it as "contactable alumni" our constituent count is 6k, this obviously changes participation #'s in our favor.

    Is this how most organizations are running participation #'s? What are best practices?​​

    Appreciate the feedback!

    ------------------------------
    Lissette Cerda
    Advancement Services Manager
    Albuquerque Academy
    CerdaL@aa.edu
    ------------------------------


  • 2.  RE: Participation percentages

    Posted 21 days ago
    US News sets the rules for their national survey.  It is the number"of record."  meaning anyone not dead or "lost."  You must still include those marked as "no contact," assuming you do have contact information.

    Internally many institutions track "solicitable" alumni.  That excludes the no contact folk as well as others you decide not to solicit for some reason.

    John

    John H. Taylor 
    919.816.5903 (Cell/Text)

    Big Ideas; Small Keyboard





  • 3.  RE: Participation percentages

    Posted 21 days ago
    Now that I am behind my desk, I want to dig deeper into this participation issue.

    CASE has largely abandoned the notion of tracking participation rates, other than asking for raw alumni data in the VSE.  And I applaud that shift and have been arguing that alumni participation is an inaccurate measure - not to mention that so many organizations manipulate those data.  For example, here is what CASE says on page 61 of the new book:

    "6.5 ALUMNI ENGAGEMENT
    In prior editions of this book, alumni participation was the main metric on which institutions focused. In recent years, the industry has expanded the measurement of alumni engagement to include activities beyond monetary donations. In higher education, changes in how students engage with the institution have warranted an expanded definition of alumni."

    The book goes on to discuss its efforts in developing Alumni Engagement Metrics.

    And so, US News & World Reports remains the sole national organization that formally tracks alumni participation.  But even they recognize the decreasing value of that metric and have dropped its importance to the overall ranking survey from 5% to 3%.

    Their instructions for the most recent survey continue to reference the VSE, which does provide definitions in the survey instrument.  Here is the latest from USN&WR:

    "Alumni giving rate average: The nonweighted mean percentage of undergraduate alumni of record who donated money to the college or university. The percentage of alumni giving serves as a proxy for how satisfied students are with the school.  A higher average alumni giving rate scores better than a lower rate in the ranking model.

    "Following guidelines of reporting to the Voluntary Support of Education Survey, alumni of record are former full- or part-time students who received an undergraduate degree and for whom the college or university has a current address."
     
    Many institutions track different participation rates.  I mentioned "solicitable" alumni earlier.  "Solicited" is another many look at, tracking only those you actually sent an appeal or called in the denominator.  However, that methodology does not account for the random alumni who made a gift but weren't asked!

    And the real kicker in all of this is the underlying premise for being counted in the numerator is that you must have legally made the gift.  Therefore, DAF and private foundation gifts do not count!  At least for USN&WR.

    So, the moral to this long story is that you can track whatever you want to internally, as long as you report correctly to USN&WR and the VSE.  But more importantly, whatever metric you decide to use should be used consistently every year.  If you keep changing the internal definition, you cannot track whether you are making any headway.

    John

    John H. Taylor
    Principal
    John H. Taylor Consulting, LLC
    2604 Sevier St.
    Durham, NC   27705
    919.816.5903 (cell/text)

    Serving the Advancement Community Since 1987


    On Tue, Aug 31, 2021 at 11:24 AM John Taylor <johntaylorconsulting@gmail.com> wrote:
    US News sets the rules for their national survey.  It is the number"of record."  meaning anyone not dead or "lost."  You must still include those marked as "no contact," assuming you do have contact information.

    Internally many institutions track "solicitable" alumni.  That excludes the no contact folk as well as others you decide not to solicit for some reason.

    John

    John H. Taylor 
    919.816.5903 (Cell/Text)

    Big Ideas; Small Keyboard





  • 4.  RE: Participation percentages

    Posted 21 days ago
    It's all about the hunt for the denominator. If you're looking at parents and grandparents in addition to alumni, like Lissette's institution is, the correct denominator becomes even murkier.

    My advice is to assess campaigns and appeals by using 'solicitable' as the denominator. Anyone who is not solicitable essentially is out of the scope of the campaign's efforts anyway. If there is a specific effort to recover unsolicitables, it can be measured on its own terms.


    Thank you,
    Isaac Shalev
    Data Strategy Expert
    Sage70, Inc.
    (917) 859-0151
    isaac@sage70.com

    Schedule a 30-minute consultation now:







  • 5.  RE: Participation percentages

    Posted 21 days ago

    Thank you for the very informative responses!! Will definitely be sharing with the rest of my team.

    -Lissette

     

     






  • 6.  RE: Participation percentages

    Posted 20 days ago
    Lissette,

    I will throw in one other item not specifically mentioned by everyone's thorough responses. To John's point below, USN&WR has specific requirements, but for your own internal purposes, you can also consider soft credit and how you apply that within your own rules. For example, if we have two alumni of record that we have recorded as being spouses (joined records), and one makes a legal gift, then we will apply 100% soft credit for that gift on the spouse's record. Therefore, we would count two donors in our participation, not just one.

    Matt Bain
    Executive Director, Advancement Services
    Interim Director, Alumni & Constituent Engagement
    Division of University Advancement
    Kennesaw State University
    404-944-9130





  • 7.  RE: Participation percentages

    Posted 20 days ago
    Absolutely right, Matt.  That was the CASE stance and still is the USN&WR stance.  As long as the two individuals are legal partners, you may count both (if both are alumni).  But this is the only soft-credit relationship you can count for external reporting purposes.

    One clarification issued by CASE a number of years ago is that the alumnus did not have to be the legal donor.  If their spouse or partner made the gift and was not an alum, but you gave their partner soft credit, you could count that alumnus.  Of course, you would not count the non-alum spouse!

    John

    John H. Taylor
    Principal
    John H. Taylor Consulting, LLC
    2604 Sevier St.
    Durham, NC   27705
    919.816.5903 (cell/text)

    Serving the Advancement Community Since 1987







  • 8.  RE: Participation percentages

    Posted 20 days ago
    John- I assume when you say for external reporting that you mean the surveys and data collection tools?  In terms of stewardship if a family member is asked to be soft-credited we will include in stewardship reports.


    Tina Gorski-Strong, P '23
    Chief Advancement Officer
    Bancroft School
    508.854.9201
    Pronouns: she, her, hers


    Every Donor Counts!

    When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.
    ~Maya Angelou







  • 9.  RE: Participation percentages

    Posted 20 days ago
    Yes.  I was thinking specifically of the VSE and USN&WR.

    John

    John H. Taylor
    Principal
    John H. Taylor Consulting, LLC
    2604 Sevier St.
    Durham, NC   27705
    919.816.5903 (cell/text)

    Serving the Advancement Community Since 1987