The Blue and the Gold (and the Green)
Notre Dame also benefits from a strong, recognizable brand.
“When they see that ND logo — it’s almost reflexive. When you see it out of the corner of your eye, you do a double-take and you look to see what it was because you recognize it,” Bellairs adds. “It’s that interlocking ND. It’s the distinctive use of blue and gold that no one else uses.”
The key is to engage alumni early and often, giving them a reason to come back. The least likely alumni to make a donation are those who have been out of school for one, two or three years, because they still don’t have much money at that point. But Nanni says it’s vital to get alumni in the habit of giving early, even if only at a modest level.
“That’s a gift that we really cherish and really work at because that’s the pipeline to the future,” he says. “If you can get recent graduates to get in the habit of giving annually — even if it’s $25 a year or $50 or $100 a year — once they come into greater wealth (on many occasions, later in life), it will be much easier for them to make a more significant gift to the university.
“It’s very important to establish those habits early, so we put a lot of time up front into trying to connect,” he adds.
Riding the rainbow
Notre Dame is coming off a record-breaking year in terms of fundraising and alumni involvement. New records were set this past year for the four different indices the university measures:
* Campaign production, which includes all new pledges, as well as planned gifts, brought in about $334 million last year, breaking the record of the previous year of $250 million;
* Cash receipts reached $215 million compared to $180 million the previous year;