Giving and Graduate Schools of Business

For the third year in a row, I’m writing a post about giving web pages. For this 2013 post, I’ll reflect on graduate business schools and how they use their websites to connect with potential donors. Here I identify best practices from four schools of business that should influence your own digital communication for fundraising.

  1. Offer a strong landing page.
    Typically, homepages include giving links. Often, “Giving” appears in the persistent topic navigation but with increasing frequency, you’ll find the “Give” link in the task-based navigation set. Regardless, make sure that those who click land on a strong web page. The Giving landing page at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business is a fine example. The photography draws you in, the design is clean, and the feature content is compelling. I also find the tagline particularly first-rate: “Because what we do endures, what you do matters.”
  2.  Explain the impact of gifts.
    It sounds obvious but giving web pages need to effectively explain the impact of private support. In attempts to convince potential donors, we sometimes overwhelm them with dense paragraphs of explanation. I think the infographic feature on the Harvard Business School site is a better approach; it provides a digestible and powerful explanation. Instead of mountains of text, this visual representation lets the facts shine. Consider the impact of Harvard’s statement that, “1/4 of the School’s operating revenue comes from donor support.” I also really like the HBS Priorities page because the language is direct and inspirational.
  3. Make your case.
    When it comes to asking for money, you need to make the case while keeping in mind that many donors are looking for specifics. Fundraising tied to particular initiatives, like the Kansas State New Business Building, create a solid theme for building communication around. The quotations from alumni business leaders on the K State site are an interesting way to make the case. The content on this page also includes details about the new space, making it very real.
  4. Inspire them with consistent communication that has nothing to do with fundraising.
    In my view, the most important thing to remember is that consistent communication, separate from your giving web pages, can make all the difference. I feel strongly that donors make gifts when they have a relationship with the institution. The Dean’s Blog at UVA’s Darden School of Business is current, thoughtful, and insightful. Readers of this blog will come to understand the mission and vision of Darden, and I think this view into the details of the Darden experience will cultivate potential donors. Note that I didn’t find any posts from Dean Bruner about private support. Instead, his posts are topical; they are a conversation about Darden and business education.

More on giving websites:

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Author: susantevans

Susan T. Evans is director of corporate and foundations relations at the College of William & Mary. She is a proven strategic leader with deep expertise in advancement, communications, brand management, marketing, digital strategy, technology, administration and organizational development. She is known for creative and strategic approaches to challenges within higher education, nonprofits and business.

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