International fundraising can be a daunting challenge for advancement shops of every size. Small shops, who have not historically invested in the international space, often think that they are not able to compete in the arena of international fundraising. At the same time, larger shops, who have traditionally invested in this space, constantly struggle to assess return on investment in a philanthropic landscape that is very different from North America.
Despite these two disparate challenges, as international enrollment increases at institutions of all sizes, international parents are becoming a more important part of the prospect donor pool. As a result, advancement leaders should rethink their strategy around how to engage the parents of prospective international students.
Effective techniques for all institutions to engage international parents
While data and wealth demographics suggest there is a potentially ripe opportunity in global fundraising, advancement leaders often struggle with whether or not they are ready to explore the international space. International parents represent a great middle ground for this space, allowing institutions to engage in global fundraising without leaving campus.
Higher education institutions, both public and private, across North America have seen a record number of new enrollments from international students. However, it is important to note that many of these students come from families and backgrounds with presumed capacity to pay full tuition based on their funding sources (e.g., family wealth).
3 steps to target your high-impact fundraising approach with parents
Across the student experience, there are many opportunities for development staff to engage and cultivate high-net worth international families. Often, the parents of international students arrive with students for move-in day, travel to campus for family weekend, and are often in North America throughout the year for business trips. They may even own another property in the United States or Canada. The graphic below identifies areas of international parent prospect engagement that development leaders can use to cultivate international parent prospects across the time their students are on campus.
Strategically Embedding Development into Existing Campus Touch Points
There are various opportunities to incorporate international students’ parents into their college experience. Institutions can consider hosting a welcome dinner for highly-rated parents during student drop-off or plan farewell dinners with trustees. During parents’ weekend, consider featuring international student scholarship impact stories. Furthermore, campus tours are a great opportunity to highlight naming opportunities.
These engagement and solicitation techniques are cost-effective and do not require sending a senior-level gift officer overseas. Plus, they give institutions an opportunity to test the waters in the international giving space before launching a formal program. At the same time, institutions with existing international giving programs can engage their international parent donor prospects right from campus, saving time and money.
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