This text is part of the Philanthropy special
Money is the soul of war: a cliché repeated so often it has become a mantra for some. If it is true that it is very useful to carry out big projects and make dreams come true, solidarity, mutual help, sharing of knowledge or good contacts are all elements that can have a great impact on the life of an individual like that one Institution.
More than ever, the University of Montreal is committed to this dual approach, trying to mobilize people who no longer frequent the premises, but whose passage has undoubtedly been crucial for their professional or personal development. After all, it has 400,000 graduates and receives about 14,000 donations annually, each varying by a few hundred dollars.
Could she do more and better? Élodie Marteau, Director of Annual Campaigns, illustrates the situation in the form of an amusing question. “What do you think is the main reason why people don’t donate?” Anyone who engages in lengthy sociological explanations will be very disappointed. “Because we didn’t ask her!” says the one who has been working in the network of alumni and donors at the Université de Montréal for more than a year.
This evidence speaks volumes about the various challenges faced by the team assigned to philanthropy, and it’s not just about small or big bucks. “Building a philanthropic culture is a state of mind,” emphasizes Élodie Marteau, a way of showing how important it is and that everyone is taking the actions they want to take, the actions they can take. »
One of those gestures, of course, is to untie your purse strings. Although there are many opportunities to be generous, some are more important and meaningful than others. Sometimes being part of the news, especially the most burning ones, can be crucial. With this in mind, the Aid Fund for University Communities in Humanitarian Crises was created, an initiative of which Maryève Tassot, Director of Engagement, is particularly proud. “Our company is not immune to such events,” says the specialist in marketing communication. Look at what is happening in Ukraine… We are here to act. »
Yes, but how?
The war in Ukraine is a catastrophic humanitarian situation and not the only international tragedy vying for the attention of graduates and, more importantly, the general public. Attracting attention is a constant challenge for Maryève Tassot. “Many causes are worth it,” she says. We can just as easily donate to sick children or the homeless, but what do we prefer to support one over the other? Knowing the person who invests and commits, their way of talking about it, all this facilitates the desire to contribute. It’s up to us to maintain this relationship over time so that when the time comes, the graduate feels like it’s not coming out of nowhere. »
Building and maintaining that relationship goes well beyond just communicating, even if Élodie Marteau acknowledges with a chuckle that “communicating is repetition.” More seriously, she says: “In philanthropy, we rely on many studies, statistics, and even neuroscience to determine the reading path of our messages. Which emotions are generated, how decisions are made and how a story should be structured, depending on whether the message is sent by post or email. Because yes, contrary to popular belief, mailings still prove their effectiveness when it comes to collecting donations and strengthening the feeling of togetherness.
This is also the main battle horse of Maryève Tassot, speaking to an audience that one might think won over in advance, but that is not always the case. However, if we judge by the success of the first edition of the Grandes Retrouvailles at the end of September, it was five days of celebration in which several faculties (music, pharmacy, law, nursing, dentistry, etc.) joyfully opened their doors to their former students – 8,500 people have answered – the desire to reconnect with the university environment does not seem to be abating.
This success comforts Maryève Tassot, for whom the gift can take many forms. “What many offer us is priceless. Some sit on alumni councils, others offer internships, or take the time to comment on our approaches so we can improve our graduate engagement methods. And that’s not counting all those willing to talk about their journey, to talk to students, especially the first in their families to attend university. These testimonies give them much hope and inspiration. »
At a time when inflation does not appear to be under control and economic uncertainty looming, these clouds do not seem to dampen the enthusiasm of these two enthusiasts of philanthropy, and especially of the University of Montreal. “It’s a great job, because you can see how generous people are, that they want to invest more and that the projects implemented are important in the eyes of the graduates,” says Élodie Marteau. “Every day my work brings me closer to the heart of the university, in the truest sense of the word,” says Maryève Tassot. Philanthropy is what feeds all of the institution’s actions. I am in contact with many people and I have the opportunity to discover a multitude of projects, which of course need funding, but also allies. »
This special content was created by the Special Publications team at Have to, Marketing related. The elaboration of Have to did not participate.