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When their undergraduate chapter was suspended in 1999, they knew it didn’t mean that the alumni relations program should shut down, too. Read how their efforts have shown fantastic results years later.

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Even if your fraternity is in the clear, are you missing something when it comes to engaging your alumni?  

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In 2001, Delta Kappa Epsilon at North Carolina celebrated $2,165,000 raised from its loyal alumni base in a year-long capital effort as they reopened the DKE house following renovations. The campaign encouraged alumni to support the ongoing effort to keep the house in mint condition for future generations. You can see for yourself just how excited the alumni group was to celebrate this milestone, coming together for a huge celebration featured in its biannual newsletter.

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Now DKE is looking to raise another $1.28 million. This effort will fund more capital renovations, grow its Academic Excellence Program, and provide benefits to the house mother and manager.

Already, DKE UNC is well on its way to meeting its $1.28 million goal for its DKExcellence: The Four Corners campaign. Volunteers are coming forward to act as class agents to encourage their fellow brothers to give and get involved. Impressively, the Class of ’71 has already gained 100% commitment to the campaign.

“Our class has always felt indebted to the DKE house and the alumni before us for our college experiences and memories,” says Craig Perry ’71, one of the alumni responsible for rallying the class and achieving the 100% commitment goal.

The Class of 2005 followed suit, and gained 100% participation. “I had no doubt that we’d get 100% because we’ve always held each other accountable,” said Alston Mann ’05. He goes on to say that, now that he’s older, he realizes the importance of alumni staying involved, and hopes his efforts will benefit many generations to come.

Above and beyond the Four Corners campaign, DKE UNC also keeps its annual fund active while still raising funds for the capital campaign, to help with the yearly operating budget and to prevent shortfall in the years ahead.

Surprised to hear that one fraternity can raise so much capital? The steps are simple, but not always easy.

For any group aiming at a large campaign such as this, a few certain guidelines can make all the difference, and certain foundations have to be in place before you begin.

1. Your Alumni Group Should Be a Team

You can’t expect something to come from nothing. Your members have to be involved, committed, connected and working together to achieve a common goal. They need to understand the big picture. You can’t embark upon a large project like this without first having a foundation of communication and connection with your alumni, which is achieved through regular updates and a feed of interesting and relevant information reaching your group.

2. You Need a Plan, But Also Flexibility

A good plan moving forward is required to keep you on target. Know what you want to raise, your timeline, specifically what the money will go toward (donors aren’t interested in giving cash to non-specific goals) and why your chapter needs these funds. However, you also have to be very flexible and respond to your alumni, so that you can give them what they want. Allow them to give where their passions lie, and adjust your strategy so that they are pleased with your efforts, so they’re inspired to give.

3. Keep Communication Open as You Go

Along the same lines, as your campaign progresses, you have to be open and honest with your donors as to where you are, how much you’ve raised and what your plans are moving forward. Spend a little extra time ensuring your alumni are involved and staying informed throughout the entirety of the campaign. Boost communications to keep your team acting like one. DKE UNC knows the value in investing in a strong alumni relations program, and its historical results show that it has been worth the investment.

Are you considering a large capital campaign for your fraternity? Avoid vital mistakes and keep your group on the right track, so you can finally see the success you’re after. Check out our informative guide and give your managing editor a call.

If you interview a fraternity alum over the age of 50, he’s likely to use some of the following phrases to describe his fraternity experience: “leadership and teamwork,” “lifelong friends,” “made me who I am today.” How does this contrast with today’s fraternity headlines of hazing, sexual assault, and alcohol abuse?

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Annual funds support yearly operations within your alumni group – events, newsletters, etc. Maybe you’re currently able to cover these day-to-day costs; however, just waiting around for your next big capital campaign need to arise before you begin really investing in your fundraising efforts is no way to do business.

Nurture your annual giving program through consistent friend-raising and communications. This ensures that you’ve developed the relationships with your donors that are needed to not only reach all of your fiscal goals, but also to maintain a thriving alumni group that can easily take on the added costs of huge projects.

After you’ve been cultivating your annual fund for several years, and establishing a “giving culture” within your group, you’ll notice that you’re much more prepared for a capital campaign, as you know which of your alumni give, when, how, and why. This is crucial data for determining how you’ll ask your donors for the funds for a larger, one-time project.

Best Practices for Annual Funds

There are a few ways you can ensure your annual fund is reaching its full potential.

1. Tailor messages to address a donor’s giving history to prove you’re paying attention.

Identify different donors segments and tell stories that speak to their loyalty. Thank your loyal donors in every letter, ask donors who haven’t made a gift in the last few years to renew their support again this year, and invite those never-givers to join your effort and help support your initiatives.

2. Balance dues with news.

Don’t overwhelm your donors with hard asks for donations. Instead, make an effort to make your stakeholders, especially donors, feel special. This can be done by sending thank you notes, electronic and printed newsletters, invitations to events, and other items that show you value the part they play in your community.

3. Frequency, Consistency, and Meaning

One or two newsletter per year will never build the strong relationship that you desire with your donors. It takes 12-18 touches per year to build a foundation of loyal donors, as you consistently show them the meaning behind their gifts – how their donations are being used and the lives that are impacted.

4. Recognize donors and thank them often.

Donors value your appreciation of their donation. This can be as simple as publishing a list of donors online and in print. You can also feature donors on your website or in your newsletters, telling their individual stories and showing the motives behind their gifts.

Want to discover how you can use consistent communication and storytelling to nurture your annual campaign? Existing Affinity Connection partners can reach out to their managing editor; or, to learn more about Affinity Connection, contact Andy Scheldrup at 763-557-9008 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

A classic example of a fraternity chapter that is “doing it right,” Phi Delta Theta Purdue’s success can be seen through its results. With record fundraising, high alumni event attendance and long-term volunteer and alumni engagement, the group certainly has a lot to boast about.

For one, their alumni golf outing, the annual Phi Open, is the largest golf tournament on Purdue’s campus. Now in its 27th year, it’s grown from 25 participants to more than 140. “It’s a great way to keep in touch with friends and brothers and it is a good way to raise money for the house,” says Andy Beasley ’91, who has been organizing the event for 20 years. “Some of the most fun and most formative years of my life were spent with those guys, and I know there are a lot of them I would lose touch with if it were not for the Phi Open.”

Planning an annual golf outing isn’t only a fun time for the alumni, it’s also a great way to build relationships with donors, who continue to give long after the event is over.

How It Works: A Crazy-Successful Annual Fund

Additionally, this is one alumni group that hasn’t needed a capital campaign for 27 years! Why? Their high-performing annual fund and smart money management means they keep the cash needed for house remodels and repairs, and alumni communication and events, on hand.

While most groups will undertake a huge remodel of their house at once (like Phi Delta Theta did in 1990, at a cost of $1.2 million), now, Phi Delta Theta is stretching its current remodel over the course of 10 years, raising 10% of the funds needed annually. This decision, paired with consistent alumni communication through combined monthly eletters and regular newsletters, makes it realistic for the group to meet their goals.

“This way we don’t have to go back to alumni for standard maintenance and upgrades of the house, we can go back to alumni saying we have a special deal, like we want to put in a theater and it’s going to cost 15k; let’s do a fundraiser just for the theater,” says Gary Batesole, president of the Indiana Phi Delta Theta alumni association. “That got a much better response than asking for $2 million to fix the house… The response from alumni is much better with a specific project, because you get [it] in the newsletters…and then they can see exactly where their money is going.”

While he feels this all-annual-fund model is definitely a formula that can work for other alumni groups, he cautions that it takes a large amount of commitment. “They have to have the commitment to steadily do it every single year, or they’ll have to do a major fundraiser to do a major renovation down the road, where we hopefully will not.”

It’s the newsletters that Batesole stresses is also a crucial part of the plan. “The alumni want to know what’s going on and they want to know where their money is going. They want to see activity the chapters are doing, so they can get behind it. They have to feel positive about what’s going on today.”

Plus Donors-Turned-Volunteers

Of course, all this great alumni communication doesn’t just result in dollars – it also provides the group with a large amount of volunteers, who are eager to help out however they can, whether it’s as a mentor, member of the board or making crucial repairs around the house. Volunteers are recognized for their efforts, and they can see exactly how their hard work pays off through frequent group updates.

Does the Phi Delta Theta Purdue alumni group sound exactly like what you’ve been hoping for in your own alumni group? Adopt some of their best practices for yourself, and see how you can create a successful annual fund campaign, while keeping your members engaged and informed. Request a free sample newsletter and more information from your managing editor, or, to learn more about Affinity Connection, reach out to Andy Scheldrup at 763-557-9008, or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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