Tech tool could take the guessing out of college fundraising

By Dennis Carter, Assistant Editor
February 17th, 2011

Alumni giving fell .4 percent in 2010, according to a recent report.

College and university fundraising officials might not have to wonder how alums feel about their alma mater thanks to a computer program that can tell just how much a former student likes or dislikes the institution.

Oregon State University (OSU) on Feb. 17 launched the Building Community Initiative (BCI), a program designed to “assesses the affinity and connection” between alumni donors and their college or university.

OSU announced that it will make the tool available to other campuses.

The fundraising tool examines four factors to determine a potential donor’s feelings toward their college and assigns a score that could help campus decision makers decide who to target during fundraising campaigns.

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“What sets this research apart from other products on the market is its ability to pinpoint how alumni and donors feel right now,” said James McAlexander, director of OSU College of Business’s Close to the Customer Project, a marketing research initiative.

McAlexander said the BCI program doesn’t just account for information available in a simple web search that provides cursory information but that stops short of giving fundraisers a good idea of a donor’s propensity to give.

“We are going to the source and using very specific questions and detailed analysis to determine an alumni or donor’s allegiance to an institution,” he said.

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