Date of Graduation


Document Type

Problem/Project Report

Degree Type



Reed College of Media


Not Listed

Committee Chair

Geah Pressgrove

Committee Member

Julia Daisy Fraustino

Committee Member

Kirsten Barnicle

Committee Member

Steve Urbanski


As higher education in West Virginia continues to lose state funding, students’ tuition is increasing to fill the gap. These tuition increases have led to an increased reliance on private funding and a need to creatively approach engaging new potential donors. Year 0 Alumni are an ignored group of stakeholders when it comes to university fundraising, likely due to their limited potential to make large gifts. However, cultivating these relationships demonstrates the long view necessary for future planning, while providing a novel approach for smaller gifts that can accumulate to meaningful support to address the current emerging need.

To this end, this professional project explores new strategies to cultivate Year 0 Alumni as future university donors. By employing a Participatory Action Research (PAR) and Human-Centered Design approach, the author aims to understand the factors that might lead to increased post-graduation engagement. Drawing on fundraising, public relations and stewardship scholarship, the author conducted workshops with student ambassadors that are part of a small unit at a large land-grant flagship state university. As these students did not have extensive experience with financial giving, the author incorporated photovoice to provide these students a pathway for illustrating the strengths of their current relationship and the potential for a future commitment to the college. The project resulted in two key outcomes: a participant-created photo exhibit and a co-created strategic plan for the college’s development officer. In so doing, the project informs future campaign planning in terms of appeal, message and visuals.