If your nonprofit existed for a decade or more, you have alumni: people whom you served once with the potential to be donors. Benefits of engaging alumni include:
Alumni challenges include:
Yet, some of your alumni feel a deep and enduring passion for your organization. Use this as motivation to override the challenges. Satisfying alumni work involves identifying alumni who love you and, if necessary, reigniting their passion. (You also have opportunities to kindle fire in alumni who are lukewarm. Most find it’s best to regard them as potential donors who are “likely to agree to meet.”)
To work with your alumni, you’ll want to sort them into “may give” and “unlikely to give.” This will allow you to focus. Dumping all alumni into one pile is akin to mixing darks and lights when doing laundry. It gives you muddled results. To shorten your list, you need to learn about:
From the nonprofit’s perspective, it’s natural to desire alumni status to be a strong motivator. You do good work and people benefited from it. Nostalgia does motivate, as witnessed by the abundance of class reunions. However, while yesterday may inspire infrequent gatherings, donors seek to solve current and future needs. While you’ll look back to find alumni, look to now to help them to fulfill their philanthropic goals. Alumni are like candles. Help them to reach their goals. Their flames will grow larger, and they’ll provide you warmth and light.
Karen Eber Davis provides customized advising and coaching around nonprofit strategy and board development. People leaders hire her to bring clarity to sticky situations, break through barriers that seem insurmountable, and align people for better futures. She is the author of 7 Nonprofit Income Streams and Let's Raise Nonprofit Millions Together.
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