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Posts Tagged ‘young alumni’

Twitter is now the #3 social networking site in the US

Twitter is now the #3 social networking site in the US

Twitter. By now everyone has heard of the website that is taking the social networking world by storm. On April 8th, Athletics Development Frontier commented on how universities can utilize social networking sites, primarily Facebook, to increase awareness of athletics to their donors and fans. Twitter, which is now ranked as the third most-visited social networking site in the US, is gaining momentum in this fast-moving industry.

Dozens of athletic departments now use Twitter as another avenue to reach out to their fans and keep “followers” (as Twitter calls fans on the site) up to date on happenings within the department. Just like Facebook, Twitter enables departments to stay in the forefront of their donors minds by providing short updates to their Twitter page. Also, it is free for both the athletic departments and followers to join this growing network.

It is clear that with each passing year athletics donors are becoming more tech savvy and more inclined to spend time online. In an effort to reach out to younger alumni and potential donors, opening a Twitter account will target the younger demographic.

So, should a development officer support the use of Twitter by their department? Athletics Development Frontier says, “yes.” As a free medium of communication, the only cost to the department would be the time of a dedicated employee to post to the site. Since posts can only be a maximum of 140 characters, very little time is necessary and could be handled by a department intern.

However, before opening a Twitter account, check out what some other universities are doing.  The University of Washington Twitter page would be a good place to start. With 2,357 followers, the Husky page has a larger than average following for an athletics page. They include links to other Husky sites, such as their Facebook account and YouTube page. Like other Twitter pages, UW posts several times a day. Unlike other pages, however, their posts are not just scoring updates from their games currently in action. UW includes polls, links to news articles, links to facility updates, and other noteworthy information to further engage their fans.

It is clear that Twitter is here to stay, and development departments that get the jump on this new medium of communication will increase the flow of information to their donors and fans. Updates on giving year deadlines, ticketing information, priority point rewards, and upcoming events are all simple ways to promote the development department through Twitter.  

Click on the following links to be taken to a number of other athletics twitter pages: Oklahoma UniversityUniversity of OregonWake Forest,  RutgersUniversity of Arizona, Appalachian StateUniversity of California, Santa Barbara

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One segment of donors that can be over-looked and under-utilized are a university’s young alumni. Usually caught between school and full-time work, young alumni are often short on extra cash, but still high on enthusiasm for university athletics. It is key to build rapport with these alumni soon after graduation to foster long-term giving relationships. Of course, in these programs, the emphasis is more on participation in annual giving rather than the amount given. Here is a sample of some young alumni giving programs from around the nation:

The Vanderbilt University 2020 Society
is a segment of the Commodore Club that is under the age of 40 that contributes at least $100 to the school’s athletic annual fund. The name comes from the fact that Vandy expects their next generation of athletic donors to come to maturation around the year 2020. The university is encouraging young alums to join by offering discounted football and basketball season tickets for those who have been out of school for five years or less. Learn more about the 2020 Society here.

The University of Virginia Athletics Foundation
is trying something new in 2009 with their young alumni. For each dollar donated by a young alumni (undergraduate degree in the last four years, or graduate degree in the last two years), the Foundation will match the gift made in order to increase the benefits received by the donor. For example, a young alumni who donates $500 dollars would receive the benefits of a $1,000 donation. For more information, visit the UVA Foundation website here.

The Ohio University Bobcat Club
uses a prorated-type approach with their young alumni (undergraduate degree in the last three years). For the 2008-2009 year, depending on graduation year, young alumni could make progressively higher (although still discounted) donations to get credit at the $100 level. For example, a graduate in 2008 had to donate only $25 to be credited at the $100 level, while a 2007 grad had to donate $50. These young alums were then qualified to receive a host of benefits, including: discounted football season tickets, priority seating at football and basketball, Bobcat Club priority points, and the Bobcat Club newsletter. Visit the Bobcat Club young alumni page here.

George Mason University’s Patriot Club
is enticing young alums with the offer of 50 percent off the cost of a basketballs season ticket.  Recent graduates from George Mason who experienced the exhilarating run of the men’s basketball team in the 2006 NCAA Tournament certainly appreciate the opportunity to support their team and the athletic department.  Click here for George Mason’s young alumni page.

Across the board, there are consistencies in young alumni programs:
– Offer discounted or free (see OK State) rates to young alumni to encourage giving.
– Give the young alums access to seats in football or basketball that are better than the general public can purchase.
– Invite young alums to community events to encourage their involvement in the the club or program.
– Include a free t-shirt or hat for making a first-time donation.

To see other young alumni programs, check out these links:

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