Dakota Wesleyan: Engage Alumni and Donors
Dakota Wesleyan University (DWU) is a small, private, liberal arts college in Mitchell, South Dakota. DWU offers nearly 40 different majors which include business, science, religious studies, education and the arts. DWU serves nearly 900 students, and the student-to-faculty ratio is 12:1.
Before turning to texting, staff members relied on phone calls and emails to reach out to alumni and donors. However, staff soon realized that their response rates were not optimal. DWU struggled to get alumni and donors to answer their phones. Additionally, when DWU used emails to drive fundraising campaigns, they rarely received any responses.
To better engage their alumni and donors, DWU turned to texting.
In 2019, DWU worked with Signal Vine to begin using the platform’s two-way texting capabilities. DWU opted to text a group of 3,500 alumni as well as people who have donated within the past 10 years. The team began texting alumni and donors during times of the year that usually led to more engagement. For DWU, this in part meant sending out details about their homecoming events and other alumni gatherings. Also, DWU used Signal Vine to send details about their annual Day of Giving event.
Overall, DWU was able to see an increase in reaching alumni, specifically younger alumni. Additionally, DWU saw more donors and alumni engaging with them, as texting gave them the ability to reach people who didn’t previously see messages and giving opportunities on social media.
The staff members at DWU note some best practices they’ve uncovered throughout their texting journey to engage alumni and donors.
- Staff should take special care to be online when a text is sent. Staff emphasize how important it is to respond to alumni and donors in a reasonable amount of time. Sometimes, alumni and donors will respond to a text with a question. Staff should make an effort to answer these questions as soon as possible.
- Announce the new communication tool. The DWU team suggests reaching out to alumni and donors prior to sending the first text, either via email or social media. It lets the constituents know the text is valid. If alumni and donors are made aware of it ahead of time, there will be fewer people opting out. In turn, staff can reach more people through the texting program. Fewer opt-outs equal more engagement and possibly donations.
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