• Higher Education
How Baruch College Fund Microsite Improved Its Alumni Relations and Donations
Sarah Van Tiem

Annual fund. Those two little words can strike fear into the heart of many a development or alumni foundation staffer. Not so at the Baruch College Office of Alumni Relations, in New York City.

Baruch College is one of the City University of New York’s “senior” or four-year public colleges. The Office of Alumni Relations is of course, affiliated with the college, but has the flexibility to operate independently. It plays to a big audience—140,000 members and growing. One of the office’s key roles is to help raise support for the Baruch College Fund, which in turn supports scholarships, academic programs and teaching at the college.


This year, Sidney Ko, Asst. Director of Special Gifts and Greg Leporati, Asst. Director of Alumni Relations, decided to kick up the fund’s online visibility. They happily had resources in place to make that a reality, smoothly and seamlessly. Their somewhat secret weapon: a “microsite.”

This fabulous tool was readily at their disposal because of their longstanding relationship with Finalsite. Senior Client Success Manager Anthony Tata has worked with the Office of Alumni relations for years.  He was able to help Sidney and Greg get to the right people at Finalsite, setting up the project to run like clockwork from the start.

“It’s been great working with Sidney to find new ways of extending the Office of Alumni Relations’ online presence and engage Baruch’s graduates and friends,” says Anthony.

Now, some may ask, “What is a microsite?”

It’s basically what it sounds like, a smaller, separate website within a larger. Think matryoshka—those Russian nesting dolls. Unlike the dolls, microsites have their own independent links and address.

The Alumni Relations Office already boasted a lovely, streamlined website—some might say more appealing and usable, in fact, than the college’s own.  It made a perfect springboard. In a textbook case of planning head, alumni office staff already had the microsite in mind during the redesign three years ago.

Says Ko: “We wanted to keep the college fund page separate from the Alumni Relations page.  It’s crucial to make it as easy as possible for potential donors to get where they need to go—with as few clicks as possible.”

Because Baruch alumni were already pretty digitally engaged, it made sense to offer a nearly instantaneous way to support their alma mater.  In some ways, designing the microsite was easier than building a whole website.

Part of the project’s seamlessness also came from Finalsite Web Designer Heidi Beutel. Heidi had designed the original Alumni Relations Office website in 2015, so it was only natural for her to create the look of the microsite--echoing the design of the “macro” homepage. Says Heidi, “It’s so important to maintain a cohesive look.”


Designing a microsite is straightforward in one important aspect--“There’s one audience—donors past, present and future, says Leporati, “plus simpler forms.”  In addition, the mini-site is super mobile-friendly. So when that donor’s rumbling home on the C train and gets a sudden inspiration to give—badda boom, badda bing.

Internally, says Ko, there have been a lot of thumbs-up. And the number of gifts made online has risen since the microsite went live.  At this point, Leporati and Ko can’t say if that’s because online giving is generally increasing or because of the spiffy new microsite. In any case, the dedicated donation site makes giving a breeze. And that makes everyone happy—givers and receivers both.

Sarah Van Tiem

Motor City Girl who: reads, writes & loves her three kids unreservedly; Also, gardening and proofreading. Believer in magic of all sorts.

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