LMU: Increasing Alumni Donations

Background

Lincoln Memorial University is a private, four-year liberal arts university located in Harrogate, Tennessee.  The university, while small, has a rich history and provides educational opportunities, develops community leadership, and expands the economy of the region.

In 2010, the university was unsatisfied with the amount of annual alumni donations.  LMU partnered with QualPro to increase the amount of alumni donations by using the MVT® Process.

Approach

QualPro consultants analyzed donation data from previous years. Next, our consultants assembled a team consisting of LMU fundraisers and university personnel.  The team interviewed university officials, parents, and students and compiled a list of over 200 potential improvement ideas for increasing alumni donation.  Our consultants helped the team narrow the initial list to 23 ideas.  Some of these ideas included taking yearbooks to donor visits, changing the mailing schedules for donation requests, and promoting donation in the alumni magazine.

Our consultants designed the MVT® experiments for the LMU team to execute.  The team divided the 22,000 LMU alumni into 60 groups to test the ideas.  Our consultants created 48 combinations of the test ideas, and LMU personnel tested each combination on the 60 groups.  After identifying the most effective ideas, QualPro consultants recommended actions to increase the university’s alumni donations.  Some of these ideas included having prominent alumni sign letters and using survey inserts in Annual Fund solicitations.  After analyzing the results, our consultants provided LMU with recommendations to dramatically increase their alumni giving.

Results

Based on QualPro’s recommendations, LMU implemented the ideal strategies for increasing alumni donations.  In just five months, LMU doubled its contributions to $4 million without adding new fundraisers or spending any additional money.  In 2015, alumni donations had increased by nearly 38 percent over the previous year, which translated to almost $7 million.