Princeton is the best fundraising university in the world.
About 63% of their alumni give to their annual giving fund – compared to the US average of just 13%.
Fundraising guru, Tom Ahern, asked the fundraisers at Princeton, “What’s your magic? What are you guys doing that works so well?”
They told him, “We start right at the beginning. Every freshman, every incoming class is introduced to an idea that we invented in the 1930’s. We call it the ‘Given University’.”
“We tell each class of freshman: ‘Look around you, 60% of you in this room are here thanks to scholarships given by philanthropic alums.”
“Look around this beautiful campus and these amazing facilities. It’s all philanthropy. The teachers you’re going to encounter, the best of the best, are here because of philanthropy.”
How can you apply the Princeton magic in your fundraising?
The answer: At each and every significant milestone – share with your students – that philanthropy is key to them being here.
You may feel some resistance to this idea.
Perhaps you fear mixing in fundraising too early in your student relationships. So let’s clarify what we are trying to do here.
You are NOT asking for money. You ARE shifting the mindset of your students.
You want them to understand from the moment they walk in the door that the generosity of others is what fuels everything you do. THEY are the beneficiaries of this.
What they received is because of philanthropy and the foresight of people who came before.
Use the Princeton Principle in practice…
- if you’re bringing in a new class into your high school or yeshiva
- if you’re a kiruv organization running a major program
- if you begin learning with a young professional
You can say at a significant moment something like…
“It’s only through the generosity of people like you, generous people who came before you – who have been inspired by what we do and care enough to ‘pay it forward’ – that you can be here today.”
The key is to mention that ‘you’ (the recipient) are here ‘because’ of the generosity of others ‘like you.’
And you should repeat it at each milestone in your students’ relationship with you and your organization.
This week: Consider when and how you can utilize the Princeton Principle in your fundraising.
Have a great fundraising week.
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