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More US institutions turning to social media for fundraising

July 6th, 2015 Posted in Fundraising, Social Media

More schools, colleges and universities worldwide are using social media to boost their fundraising results, and are experimenting with new strategies, according to survey results released today at the 2015 CASE Social Media and Community Conference.

Some 57 percent of respondents to the CASE/Huron/mStoner social media survey used social media to fundraise in 2015, compared to 47 percent in 2014. A majority of respondents (59 percent) report experimenting with new social media fundraising strategies.

“We’re seeing a steady growth in the use of social media by practitioners who work in educational advancement, especially fundraising and alumni relations, who see these tools as increasingly important to their work,” says William Walker, interim vice president of advancement resources for CASE.

Michael Stoner, president of mStoner, says survey results indicate that institutions are expanding beyond basic use of the tools and experimenting with new ways to engage donors, alumni and other constituencies.

“Many institutions are experimenting with crowdfunding, days of giving and other new social-media-based fundraising strategies,” Stoner says. “I believe that we will see more and more institutions using social media in these ways going forward.”

Other key findings:

  • Institutions are using less text and more images and video. Text decreased from 65 percent in 2012 to 43 percent in 2015 while images grew from 30 percent in 2012 to 45 percent in 2015 and video use increased from 6 percent in 2012 to 12 percent in 2015.
  • While nearly 60 percent used social media to raise money from donors, nearly 85 percent of those surveyed indicate that social-media-based fundraising represents 5 percent or less of their institution’s total.
  • Fifteen percent of institutions have held crowdfunding campaigns, and of these, 50 percent earned more than $10,000 per year.
  • Forty-two percent of institutions have held a day of giving. Of these, 84 percent considered the event to be successful with 37 percent raising more than $50,000.
  • Twenty-two percent of institutions use social media ambassadors—often alumni—who are recruited to help promote social media initiatives.
  • Twenty-six percent of respondents rate their use of social media as very successful or a model for success. These same respondents are more likely to plan, have goals and measure outcomes.
  • Respondents are focusing their attention on Facebook, Twitter and institutional websites that aggregate social media.
  • Thirty-four percent of respondents calculate engagement scores for alumni and donors and indicate that they are focused on building sophisticated ways of measuring engagement.

Jennifer Mack, senior managing researcher at Huron Consulting Group, says that measurement is becoming increasingly important as advancement professionals are asked to show a return on investment.

“Survey results indicate a trend toward measuring what is effective,” Mack says. “However, there is still more opportunity for growth in this area as the majority of institutions surveyed use number of followers, website click-throughs and anecdotal evidence as their top forms of measurement.”

The sixth annual CASE/Huron Education/mStoner social media survey, conducted Feb. 19 – March 26, 2015, asked advancement professionals at education institutions about their use of social media. Nearly 1,000 respondents provided feedback to this year’s survey. View the top-line findings and the presentation of those findings below.

Overview of findings: Huron Education and mStoner partnered with CASE for the sixth year in a row to research the social media activities of educational institutions.  Our 2010 inaugural study was one of the first studies of its kind. The overarching goal of this research is to create knowledge and resources to assist education professionals as they assess and implement social media strategies for communication and engagement.
Some of the questions we hoped it would answer include:
• How do professionals in education incorporate social media into their marketing and communication strategies, initiatives, and campaigns, especially fundraising campaigns?
• What are their goals for social media?
• Which social media sites and tools are in use in the education sector and which are most successful?
•What are current best practices?
•How is social media being used in fundraising and crowdsourcing?
•What does the near future look like for social media in education?
We conducted an online survey among a random selection of 28,000 CASE members in the US and abroad. We received 918 responses across all types of institutions – a testament to the interest in this topic.
From Pam Russell, CASE director of communications
April 30, 2015



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