OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

OSU launches research to help colleges connect with alumni and donors

02/17/2011

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University’s Close to the Customer Project has launched a new research tool, the Building Community Initiative (BCI), to assist other colleges and universities in fundraising efforts. 

The BCI assesses the affinity and connection that exists among an institution’s alumni and donors. This level of affinity is measured in four areas. The BCI affinity research looks broadly at the diverse relationship a person can have with an institution of higher education. It produces a score that is associated with each area of affinity and each person is assigned an overall BCI score denoting their overall level of affinity toward the institution. 

“What sets this research apart from other products on the market is its ability to pinpoint how alumni and donors feel right now,” said James McAlexander, director of the Close to the Customer Project and a professor of marketing at OSU. “We are not looking at public domain information. We are going to the source and using very specific questions and detailed analysis to determine an alumni or donor’s allegiance to an institution.”

Many research tools used by universities to identify a donor’s giving potential typically screen for capacity to give or often assigns a person a “wealth score,” McAlexander said. The BCI provides university advancement and foundation professionals a fresh and innovative way of connecting with alumni and donors.

The information gained through the BCI survey can be used independently or combined with existing wealth and biographical information to create a deeper understanding of a person’s affinity and propensity to give. This research has the capacity to bring new donors to the surface, focus development priorities and even discover underlying areas of dissatisfaction for current or potential donors.

Mark Koenig, senior director of advancement services for the OSU Foundation, said BCI has been invaluable for him to put together lists of potential donors for the Campaign for OSU. The OSU Foundation used the BCI to learn more about their discovery pool. 

“The BCI score tells me whether someone has high affinity towards the university rather than lukewarm affinity, so we can really prioritize those individuals that we want to reach out to first,” he said.  

Koenig emphasized that he used the information not only to prioritize contacts but appropriately segment potential donors.

“We were able to not only find out how well alumni liked their experience at OSU, but what their priorities are,” he said. “So maybe a certain person loved their professor and degree, but hates athletics. We’re not going to target that person to contribute to a new athletics facility.”

For information on this research, go to www.oregonstate.edu\bci