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We are Alumni Champions

Thank you to all of our Alumni Champions who are helping to increase alumni participation and ownership of Grand Valley State University. We are so grateful to you for your dedication to Grand Valley students and their success!

RESOURCES

Volunteer Responsibilities

Commit to making a leadership level ($500+) gift each year. This will make you more effective when asking others to participate in giving.

Visit 3+ fellow alumni, encouraging them to support Grand Valley:

  • Personal visits
  • Phone calls (to make initial contact)
  • Emails (to make initial contact)
  • Thank you notes and calls
  • Communicate with University Development Annual Giving Staff.
    • It’s important for Annual Giving staff to be able to contact you, to share information, and provide updates on successes, challenges, and progress. Please keep us updated on any changes of address, phone, email, or preferred contact methods.
    • Our goal is to make this is a beneficial, rewarding experience for you. To help us improve this program, it’s essential we receive feedback from you regarding your contacts, needs, experiences, etc.

Be a “Champion” for Grand Valley:

  • Lend your name to endorse the university in communications and appeals where appropriate.
  • Be a spokesperson for Grand Valley when talking with fellow alumni, family, and friends.
  • Participate in University Development activities and events when appropriate.

Time Commitment

  • Three personal visits - including outreach, visit, and follow-up.
  • Two dedicated training and networking events annually.
  • Communication as needed with initiative chairs and GVSU staff.

Champion Benefits

  • Build a personal and professional network.
  • Professional development and leadership opportunities.
  • Recognition at Grand Valley events and in publications.
  • Access to university leadership.

Spring Cycle: April 26, 2016 – June 30, 2016

  • April 26, 2016: Kickoff and training event; Spring outreach cycle begins
  • May 13, 2016: Alumni Volunteer Celebration & Service Award Dinner 
  • June 7, 2016: GVUF Enrichment Dinner
  • June 23, 2016: Power of 10 Grand Rapids Finale
  • June 30, 2016: End of GVSU fiscal year; Spring outreach cycle ends

Fall Cycle: October 15, 2016 – December 31, 2016

  • October 15, 2016: Homecoming event; Fall outreach cycle begins
  • November 2016: Alumni Leadership Celebration
  • December 31, 2016: Fall outreach cycle ends

1. Make your own pledge or gift first

This provides credibility to your request. Your contacts will respect you for asking them to give, knowing that you have demonstrated your own commitment. Additionally, this enables you to phrase your request as an opportunity to “join” you in supporting Grand Valley.

2. Know your contact

Review the contact profile carefully prior to your visit, and identify possible reasons for them to give. This will help guide your conversation with each individual. 

3. Talking points

Memorize a few talking points ahead of time about GVSU, the contact’s program of study, or activities they participated in as a student. If they ask questions during your conversation, it’s ok to admit you don’t know the answer. You can always follow-up afterward to provide more detail or pass those questions along to our staff. 

4. Face-to-face visits

It is always best to set a face-to-face visit when possible. This is because in-person contact: 

  • Demonstrates credibility – You are taking time and effort to visit with them.
  • Focuses attention – You are more likely to have their full attention in a face-to-face visit.
  • Clarifies communications – You will receive both verbal and non-verbal feedback, and you may be able to communicate more clearly in person.

5. Ask for a specific amount

We have provided a suggested request amount in each of your contact profiles. This clarifies your expectations for your contact and allows them to consider your request more thoroughly. 

6. Give the contact time to say yes and help get them there

Allow the individual time to consider the request, allowing for silence if appropriate. If the amount is a concern, you can suggest a payment schedule (monthly or bi-weekly), or suggest a smaller gift. You may also ask the individual to suggest an amount where they are comfortable. 

7. Follow-up

If you don’t receive a firm commitment in the meeting, we ask that you follow-up with an email and/or phone call in a few days to discuss the request further. Please consider sending a thank you note after each of your visits.

Remember:

  • There is no single moment or method that’s right for everyone. You must make your own judgment of how to handle the matter based on your assessment of the situation, the  individual’s mood, and his or her interest level in what you have to say. Often, though, the occasion will clearly suggest itself.
  • Notify our staff or chairs promptly of your successes or of any major difficulties you may have along the way. We are here to be a resource for you! We also ask that you share anything you learn with us – updated contact information, employment changes, etc.

Sample Visit

  • Greeting
  • Introduction
  • Thank you for visit
  • Explanation of Alumni Champions initiative – why you’re there
  • Ask open-ended exploratory questions (see list of strategic questions provided)
  • Discuss commonalities, GVSU experiences, career, family
  • Share information about upcoming GVSU events
  • Share information about areas of interest to prospect
  • Make request. Example: “Would you consider joining me in supporting GVSU financially with a gift of $[amount] to [fund]?”
  • Allow time for consideration
  • Answer any questions
  • Set expectation for follow-up if appropriate
  • Thank you again

Handling Difficult Situations

On the rare occasion, a difficult situation may arise during a visit.

  • If the contact seems concerned by your request for financial support, do your best to end on a positive note thanking them for their time and support of any kind – financial or otherwise. Assure them that we appreciate the involvement of our alumni in any way they choose, not just financially.
  • If the contact raises concerns or criticisms about Grand Valley, listen attentively, let them know you understand their concern and that you will pass it along to the Grand Valley staff. Please do pass along any concerns to us, and we will do our best to address them.

This list of strategic questions may be used throughout your visit to further the conversation and gather important information about the contact’s attitudes and interests as they relate to GVSU. Please feel free to make these questions your own so they become a natural part of your conversation. 

  1. What made you choose to attend Grand Valley?
  2. What’s your favorite Grand Valley memory?
  3. How did Grand Valley help you in your career?
  4. What are your impressions of Grand Valley today?
  5. When was the last time you were on campus?
  6. Why have you supported Grand Valley in the past? 
  7. If you could do anything for Grand Valley students, what would that be?
  8. What do you want to accomplish with your philanthropy?
  9. What projects or areas of the university appeal to you most?
  10. What had the biggest impact on you as a student at Grand Valley?
  11. How have you been involved with Grand Valley since you graduated?
  12. Are there ways you would like to become more involved?
  13. Where does Grand Valley fit among your philanthropic priorities?

Good morning/afternoon is this [First Name]?  

Hi [Name] my name is [Name], and I’m reaching out to you as a fellow Grand Valley alumnus. I’ve been getting more involved with GVSU from an alumni perspective, and I’d love to share with you about some of the initiatives happening at the university and learn more about your time at Grand Valley and what you’re doing now. 

Would you have time to get together for coffee or lunch in the next few weeks?

[Set date and share your contact information in case they need to reach you.]

Thanks [Name]. I look forward to meeting you then!

 

Note: If they say they do not have time to meet, ask if there is a better time in the future when you could reach out. This may also be an opportunity to continue the conversation over the phone. Whether they agree to meet/talk over the phone or not, thank them for their time.

Dear [Name], 

I’m reaching out to you to introduce myself as a fellow Grand Valley alumnus. I’ve been getting more involved with GVSU from an alumni perspective, and I’d love to share with you about some of the initiatives happening at the university and learn more about your time at Grand Valley and what you’re doing now. 

Below I’ve listed a few dates when I’m free: 

[Dates]

Looking forward to meeting you soon.

Go Lakers!

Sincerely, 

[Name and Graduation Year]


FAQs

Yes. Donors may select a fund of their choice supporting a wide variety of colleges, departments, and programs. All funds can be searched using keywords at www.gvsu.edu/give. Your contact sheets include information that may help you determine some areas of interest for that individual. During the course of your conversation, you may consider asking the individual what areas they may be interested in supporting. We are committed to honoring the wishes of our donors, and each donor can be assured their gift will be used for the purpose for which it was given.

  • Online at www.gvsu.edu/give
  • By phone: 616.331.6050
  • By mail:           
    University Development
    Grand Valley State University
    L.V. Eberhard Center, 9th floor
    301 Fulton St. West
    P.O. Box 1945
    Grand Rapids, MI 49501-1945
  • Endowment: The endowment acts like Grand Valley’s savings account. The return, or interest earned, on the investment of an endowed fund will produce a permanent income for the university.
     
  • Scholarships: Scholarships help make a Grand Valley education affordable and reduce students' reliance on loans. Scholarships help ensure that the best and brightest students can access a Grand Valley education and enrich our campus, regardless of their socioeconomic situation. Nine out of ten Grand Valley students need financial support from donors to complete their education.
     
  • Annual Fund/Operations: Annual gifts to support the operations of the university are critical for the day-to-day services and technology that support Grand Valley students each year. Annual gifts of any size, together with the gifts of many others, provide support for students such as internships, tutoring, counseling, laboratory equipment and financial aid.
     
  • Special Projects: Grand Valley regularly identifies special campaigns and projects that support student success, address the needs of the university and honor those who have made an impact on our Laker community.

HELPFUL LINKS