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Using Your Expertise Towards Storytelling and Fundraising

As a world-renowned university, UC Berkeley is successful and representative of the public goods it provides in the spheres of education, research, academic excellence, benchmarking technology, diversity and inclusion, and much more to compete on the world stage. It is through these endeavors that the university can elevate its stories and impact on the world, to the world of donors, sponsors, alumni, allies, families, and investors.

With fundraising opportunities made easier for donors to the university, Berkeley Crowdfunding has helped hundreds of campus programs and student groups raise money for a variety of projects since 2015. From diversity scholarships to alternative breaks, most crowdfunding campaigns can raise around $3,000 to $5,000 and help bridge the funding gap for special projects and initiatives.
 
Like GoFundMe, but specifically works for Berkeley’s programs. Recipients of these funds can set dedicated landing pages that tell their stories, create engaging donor experiences, and inspire donors to make gifts. Crowdfunding is a great way to attract new donors, as they can often reach networks that traditional fundraising methods do not. In addition, it is a great way to get donors to make second gifts to the University, as they often align with their interests outside of their normal philanthropic contributions.

 
This week’s edition of Wisdom Café Wednesday invites employees who are new to crowdfunding and fundraising to adopt some of its principles. It outlines the Digital Philanthropy Team, within Annual Programs in University Development and Alumni Relations and their offerings of how to get involved, while helping employees reflect on their accomplishments and set goals for how to engage donors for their programs.

Fundraising can take place throughout the year, but each year University Development and Alumni Relations hosts a variety of themes, seasons, and opportunities to build a comprehensive fundraising campaign that tells a succinct story about our campus.


You might be asking, how can my team and I introduce ourselves to these concepts and participate?  


There are two open cohorts in an academic year, and two more specific themed crowdfunding campaigns. This year focuses on diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging, and social justice to help build community. Another campaign is around Earth Day focused on sustainability and environmental issues.

When you join one of these cohorts, Digital Philanthropy will provide multiple training opportunities and guides to help ensure that your project is as successful as possible. As consultants, they can help you craft your story to maximize donations.

 

Upon crafting your compelling stories remember the following. Donors want to know who will directly benefit from their donations. 

  • What impact will they have? 

  • What stories from team members or highlighted student testimonials give a human voice to your endeavors?

  • Even better, consider putting together a 30-60 second video that showcases the people behind your programs. This human element allows donors to connect with others and give a face to the fundraising initiative. 


When crafting your direct ask for a donation, it is key to include the who, what/how, and why you need funding. The who can be fairly simple - how did you get involved with this particular organization or program on campus? What positive outcomes have come because of your participation? The what and how are incredibly important - what are you trying to accomplish with donations, or to look at it another way, how will donations help support your mission? And lastly, why are donations important or, why should donors care about your cause?

 

Additionally, crowdfunding is a great way to easily steward your donors, as they can opt in to having their names on the donor wall, receiving immediate gratification and recognition for their contributions. You can also communicate via the platform to provide updates on how the campaign is going and to send out thank you messages.


If you are interested in learning more about crowdfunding, visit http://crowdfund.berkeley.edu/about. In addition, there are currently projects available online from November 15-22, 2023 to see what elements make up a crowdfunding campaign and you could consider making a gift yourself. There are a lot of worthy causes being featured.
To embark on the practice of fundraising, it is understandable to wonder where I start and how I think like someone else. Higher education fundraising transcends partnerships with large corporations, mid-size companies, foundations, wealthy individuals, and alumni. From their perspectives, giving to a college or university is not anything new. A successful method in which colleges and universities have aligned themselves has been similar to nonprofits.
 
The following LinkedIn Learning Nonprofit Management Foundations features a section on Effective Fundraising and Marketing. Presented by Leslie Crutchfield, Social Impact Strategist, Author, Educator, and Speaker, she breaks down eight avenues to pursue when fundraising.
 
Wisdom Café Wednesday invites you to look at a program or cause for which you want to fundraise. This can be current, which has seen a few cycles, and provides an opportunity for someone outside the university to be exposed to further understanding of your scope. Using the funding avenues outlined in the e-course, pick one that can help you approach fundraising in the new calendar year as a pilot. Fundraising is a powerful way for your programs to gain visibility and show impact beyond the university. It communicates hard work and elevates employees outside of their comfort zones to tell a greater story beyond the work that we do day to day.

Wisdom Café Wednesday Featured Fundraising Techniques and Returns

Introductory Video

When you think of your favorite TV commercial, YouTube ad, or 30-second spot, what is it that resonates with you about how the material is presented? It could be the product, the music, or the creative way that a story is told in a sharpened and succinct way. Nevertheless, these video clips are meant to engage an audience. As media platforms like YouTube, TikTok, and motion-embedded websites get a lot of visits, take a look at your current web and media presence to translate your impact to a prospective donor using a video.

Identifying Prospective Donors

Think about which donors are attracted to Berkeley for both our past legacies and our paths moving forward. A lot of this enthusiasm comes from students who attend the university to learn, develop, and make the world a better place. The university’s entrepreneurial spirit is a value that is aligned with donors and sponsors that do the same. Crowdsourcing is a step to finding a donor who has also changed the world. Building common ground can sew the seeds of a working relationship when starting with your office’s mission, vision, and core practices.

Planning for Milestones

When looking at a menu of giving options, donors see something that has a definitive start and end point. To the same extent, when launching a fundraising campaign for ourselves, what keeps us grounded within a frame of reference are the milestones we set for ourselves. When identifying your milestones, consider the following elements: time frames, a specific program or goal as one and done, and a communication plan for how you inform your donors and constituents of progress and impacts achieved.


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How to Share Your Insight on Wisdom Cafe 

Discover the benefits of sharing your professional insights on Wisdom Café Wednesdays and how to do it here.
-Reading about and reaching out to featured colleagues.
-Finding supportive communities.
-Using resources to start your own network.
-Signing up for this Wisdom Café Wednesday Newsletter to ensure you get a message that you can use to support your development every week!
Don't have time for everything? Add time on your calendar to use these resources by using this link.

Enjoy,
The Wisdom Café Team
PS - Want to see specific content or staff member featured? E-mail us at wisdomcafe@berkeley.edu.
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