Online Workshop: Increasing Alumni Participation

Virtual Interactive Workshop — April 6th & 7th, 2020


A growing number of advancement programs report that alumni participation is among their highest priorities. But limited resources, competing interests, and a twenty-year national decline in the percentage of alumni who donate to their alma maters annually offer many challenges for academic institutions who seek to buck the trend.

Join us on April 6th and 7th for a 2-day virtual interactive workshop that will provide you and your colleagues with a framework for understanding the importance of alumni participation and empower you with ideas and strategies for increasing it at your own institution. Participants will have an opportunity to:

  • Learn from experts about the latest trends and best practices in alumni participation
  • Participate in focused, small-group strategy sessions
  • Network with peers to share ideas and experiences
  • Obtain workshop handouts and other materials
  • Earn CFRE credit
  • And more!

This event is ideal for annual giving, alumni relations, and other advancement staff, as well as volunteers and colleagues from outside of advancement who wish to develop a plan for increasing alumni participation rates.

  • AGN Members save an additional 20%
  • Receive further discounts when registering multiple attendees from one institution


AGN workshops bring together advancement professionals in a small group setting to learn about important topics and develop new skills. This event includes general sessions as well as interactive breakouts where participants can share challenges, exchange ideas, and discover best practices.


Welcome / The Alumni Participation Crisis (12-1pm)
Dan Allenby

We’ll kick off the workshop by discussing the agenda, introducing the faculty, and reviewing important logistics for the event. We will also set the stage for the rest of the program by addressing the core causes (and potential solutions!) for the decline in alumni participation rates that has been experienced at educational institutions across the country for nearly two decades.

Acquiring New Donors (1:30-2:30pm)
Skylar Beaver

Soliciting alumni who have never given before can be difficult and expensive. But that doesn't mean you should give up on them. In fact, finding efficient and creative ways to appeal to non-donors is one of the most important functions of an annual giving program. Successful strategies will help engage more alumni and build a stronger pipeline of future support.

Stewarding and Retaining Donors (3-4pm)
Elizabeth Keppel

Providing donors with a positive experience is one of the best ways to ensure that they continue their support from one year to the next. For most institutions, though, there's only about a 50% chance that a prior-year donor will renew their gift. While traditional channels like direct mail and phonathon are still important, using modern tactics—including email, recurring gifts, video, data analytics, social media, giving days, and other special challenges—to steward and retain donors is essential to success.

Small Group Break-Out: Setting Goals & Balancing Priorities (4:30-5:30pm)
Dan Allenby, Anne Murphy, Skylar Beaver, Elizabeth Keppel

With so many things to do (and so little time), it’s important to focus your resources where they will have the biggest impact. Understanding how to set smart goals and make sense of competing priorities will help move you and your team closer to reaching your targets. This small-group session will be an opportunity to discuss ways to stay focused, share time management strategies, and increase your overall productivity.


Annual Giving & Alumni Relations Collaborations (9-10am)
Steve Hall, Dan Allenby

Establishing a strong partnership between annual giving and alumni relations staff is critically important to the short and long-term success of any advancement operation. Although priorities for these two groups may appear different at times, identifying and building upon common goals and opportunities will not only enhance the overall experience for alumni, it will also create a stronger culture of philanthropy across the institution.

Messaging the Case for Alumni Participation (10:30-11:30am)
Elizabeth Keppel

Too often alumni donors (and prospective donors!) don’t understand why their support is important and how their gifts will impact the institutions that they care about. To ensure that programs meet fundraising goals, it's crucial to make a strong case for annual support, create appeals that generate donor interest, and share the impact of alumni support at all levels.

Leveraging Special Campaigns & Challenges to Boost Participation (12-1pm)
Skylar Beaver

Everyone likes a good deal, which is why donor “challenges” or special campaigns have become so effective for annual giving programs. Challenges can motivate donors, excite volunteers and staff, and help acquire new donors. Before you can leverage these special giving opportunities to boost participation, it’s crucial to understand the different options and identify the best fit for your unique institution.

Small Group Break-Out: Evaluating the ROI of Your Alumni Participation Efforts (1:30-2:30pm)
Dan Allenby, Anne Murphy, Skylar Beaver, Elizabeth Keppel

Advancement teams often find themselves under pressure to measure their productivity and make the case for further investment. Establishing and monitoring performance metrics for your fundraising and engagement activities can both inform future strategies and help allocate limited resources where they will have the greatest impact. In this small-group session, we will examine which key metrics to track and learn how to better measure the return on investment of your efforts.

Faculty Q&A: Overcoming 
Obstacles & Wrapup (3-4pm)
Dan Allenby, Steve Hall, Mike Morsburger, Skylar Beaver, Elizabeth Keppel

We’ll close our workshop with a discussion of what we’ve learned, what the trends are, and what we think is next for alumni giving. Bring your questions to ask our faculty panel and get ideas for what strategies you want to implement next at your institution.


Dan Allenby | Principal & Founder at AGN Resources

Dan is an author, speaker, and consultant who has worked with academic institutions for over two decades to train their advancement staff and volunteers. A recipient of the prestigious CASE “Crystal Apple” award for teaching excellence, Dan is an internationally-recognized expert on annual giving and alumni engagement. He chaired CASE’s Institute for Senior Annual Giving Professionals and its Annual Giving Workshop for five collective terms and served on the faculty for CASE’s Summer Institute in Educational Fundraising. His book—Ideas for Annual Giving—offers the latest designs for helping institutions increase annual giving and boost alumni participation. Previously, he served as the Assistant Vice President for Annual Giving at Boston University, and also led annual giving and member marketing efforts at Tufts University, Georgetown University, and the National Geographic Society. Dan received an MBA from Boston College and a BA from James Madison University, and a certificate in the Management of Communication Organizations from Tufts University. Connect with Dan on LinkedIn


Skylar Beaver | The Lawrenceville School

Skylar currently serves as the Director of The Lawrenceville Fund at The Lawrenceville School. In her decade of experience, she has also led annual giving efforts at The Spence School, Washington and Lee University, and Hobart and William Smith Colleges. Skylar holds an MPA in nonprofit management from SUNY Brockport and a BA in Sociology from Hobart and William Smith Colleges.


Steve Hall | Boston University

Steve is the Vice President for Alumni Relations at Boston University, where he has responsibility for alumni relations, annual giving, advancement communications, athletics fund-raising, and stewardship and donor relations for more than 335,000 BU alumni world-wide. Prior roles include CEO of the University of Houston Alumni Association and Vice President for Major Gifts at the Washington State University Foundation. A recipient of CASE’s Crystal Apple Award for excellence in teaching, Steve is a frequent CASE faculty member, has served on multiple CASE Commissions and CASE District Boards, and is a former president of the Council of Alumni Associations Executives.


Elizabeth Keppel | Johns Hopkins University

Elizabeth's career has spanned direct marketing, frontline fundraising, volunteer and board management, and special campaigns. She is the incoming Director of Strategic Priorities, Annual Giving at Johns Hopkins University. She just completed five years of service at the University of Florida, most recently serving as the Director of Annual Giving & Strategic Initiatives. She has also worked in annual giving at the College of William & Mary in Virginia. Elizabeth holds a B.A. in Government & Philosophy and an M.Ed. in Higher Education Administration from William & Mary.


Michael Morsberger | University of Central Florida

Mike is the Vice President for Advancement at the University of Central Florida and CEO of the UCF Foundation, where he recently led their IGNITE Campaign, which successfully concluded in June 2019 with $531.5 million in gifts and commitments. Prior roles include Vice President of Development and Alumni Relations at the George Washington University and at Duke Medicine, AVP of Development and Alumni Relations for the University of Virginia Health System, and Executive Director of Oncology Development at Johns Hopkins Medicine. Mike has served on more than two dozen nonprofit boards, and is a frequent guest speaker on the topic of fundraising and philanthropy. Mike holds a B.S. in Journalism from Radford University and an M.A. in Philanthropy and Development from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota.

For more information about this workshop, please contact us at 888.407.5064 or [email protected].