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Billionaire Census 2023
Published by: Matt Thompson
Published on:

Ultra Wealthy Alumni Engagement Strategies in Higher Education

Published by: Matt Thompson
Published on:
Learn how universities are using Wealth-X and RelSci to drive their most lucrative donor relationships.

Donations are critical to the success of today’s colleges and universities. These include donations from the ultra wealthy—individuals with a net worth of $30 million or more. Fundraisers, gift officers, and others can drive exceptional value from these donors. But they must discover and understand them as part of their alumni engagement strategies to succeed.

There are no shortcuts to these outcomes. Successful alumni engagement strategies require an individualized understanding of each potential donor. These include their interests, values, passions, hobbies, relationships, and causes to which they ascribe.

Fundraisers must continue to discover new ultra wealthy donors as well. They must spark conversations with those individuals, then build lasting relationships that drive value and mutual growth.

In this article, we’ll consider how Altrata’s successful framework for ultra wealthy donor prospecting can help. We’ll explore best practices that make up three pillars for long-term ultra wealthy donor success.

In doing so, we’ll discuss Altrata’s Wealth-X and RelSci solutions:

  • Wealth-X provides hand-curated dossiers with an intimate view of a donor’s background, interests, hobbies, and other factors.
  • RelSci allows you to quickly map out relationships between potential donors and your institution

Combining these tools can help fundraisers engage the right donors with efficiency and success.

Shaping successful alumni engagement strategies

‘Hope marketing’ and ‘casting a wide net’ can be effective for small-dollar donations. But ultra wealthy fundraisers cannot rely on universal marketing. Behind every major gift is the diligent work of building a single donor relationship.

Successful fundraisers understand these relationships must begin on the right footing. Those fundraisers appeal to ultra wealthy donors’ own interests to capture wallet share. Only then can they begin nurturing those relationships in a personalized way.

Great value starts with data

All this effort is wasted time if there is no payoff. Data can help you target the right people and apply the right alumni engagement strategies. In doing so, you can turn ‘unreachable’ targets into long-term friends to your institution.

Altrata’s database of ultra wealthy donors, individualized and custom dossiers, and relationship-mapping capabilities ensure you engage the right donors faster. Altrata verifies every data point using at least two valid data sources as well. This way, you can be sure Altrata’s research is up-to-date and accurate.

Three steps for successful ultra wealthy donor prospecting

Our framework for ultra wealthy donor prospecting is based on three key pillars: Discover, Research, and Engage. You can use this framework to build a successful roadmap for ultra wealthy donor prospecting. In doing so, you can support a clear action plan.


This first step involves identifying new ultra wealthy donors. It also includes surfacing information about your existing contacts that can lead to additional gifts.

Wealth-X can help you discover new contacts that have some connection to your institution. You can target potential donors based on interests, personal histories, geographical proximity, or propensities to give. You can also access individualized dossiers on each person known to your institution.

Beginning with your known contacts can be lucrative since they already understand your mission. Based on their previous giving history, some contacts in your existing database may be ultra wealthy without your knowledge, while others may have a greater than expected propensity to give.

Altrata helps you determine who at your institution has a connection to those ultra wealthy individuals. Your connections can provide a warm introduction to each of those prospects. These prospects are often missed by gift officers. As we will share, you can drive future value from these individuals with the right communications.


Ultra wealthy individuals often dismiss generic approaches to fundraising. Developing a deep understanding of a wealthy prospect’s individual interests allows you to tailor your approach and significantly increase your chances of securing their attention. With the right data and insights, you can craft messages, invitations, pitches, and other communications perfectly aligned with each individual prospect.

Wealth-X Dossiers provide you with immediate information you can leverage for these purposes. But Altrata’s resources also allow for higher levels of research, such as:

  • Details of relationships with people you know
  • Institutional associations
  • Past giving activities
  • Data on wealth, property, and family assets (e.g., foundations)
  • Social and political affiliations

These insights may even help you identify individuals you should avoid. After all, gifts from those engaged in controversies could put the reputation of your institution at risk.


Once you have identified your potential donors and done your research, you can begin developing effective alumni engagement strategies. You can identify the best engagement points based on your deep knowledge of each ultra wealthy prospect.

Warm introductions are a good place to start.  Your institution may have existing relationships who are connected to an ultra wealthy individual you hope to engage. RelSci’s relationship mapping technology helps you uncover unexpected connections in these areas so you can avoid using cold calls or emails.

The intelligence you uncover helps you identify contexts where you can establish a strong footing with these individuals. Events, associations, and memberships are points to explore and craft a personal story that resonates with prospects based on their interests.

Make each individual a segment of one

Ultimately, you should treat every ultra wealthy prospect as a single ‘market segment.’ That’s because networking with the ultra wealthy is a virtuous cycle. The true value of those relationships doesn’t end with a single gift.

With the right resources, you can establish a long tradition of relationship building. Creating this culture of fundraising can drive consistent gifts from ultra wealthy donors in the future.

Intelligence with impact

Universities worldwide use Altrata to build lasting connections with ultra wealthy donors. It’s these relationships that support their institutions’ most essential investments and projects. If you would like to learn more, download our due diligence guide and begin transforming donor engagement at your institution.

If you are looking for new ways to enhance your alumni engagement strategies and to find more value in your network connect with a member of our team today.

Matt Thompson is Senior Director, Head of Education & Healthcare, North America at Altrata. Matt is a partner to universities in their journey to better donor prospecting and engagement, serving institutions of higher learning across the United States and Canada.