Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Fundraising 101

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Fundraising 101

Article excerpt

The challenges facing higher education are constant. The fundraising expectations and related pressures faced by trustees, chancellors, presidents and vice presidents for advancement are unrelenting. Being able to "meet goal" and declare fundraising success is enticing and can be accompanied by great public acclaim and even more funding. Behind these lies the time-consuming work of building consensus for fundraising priorities, attracting volunteer leadership and securing lead gifts. All are influenced by the case for support. While acknowledged as a traditional component of fundraising, the case can be glossed over and its importance not fully understood until it is too late.

Here's what we know: Fundraising starts with the case for support. It is more than a compilation of financial needs; it is a forward-looking document that communicates your unique niche in the marketplace, what it will cost to implement your vision, and your projected impact.

We contend that the case must be rooted in the vision of the chancellor or president and informed by the best thinking of cabinet members, trustees, faculty and select stakeholders. At its core the case should communicate the institutions direction: Funding priorities should be derived from the strategic and business plans. As a marketing document the case should be externally focused. It should "translate" internally focused priorities into language and images that speak to potential investors. This is not a "task" to be delegated: It should be managed by the chancellor or president. It is an activity that is central to a college's or university's operations and future.

Here are three things to consider as you create or contribute to your institution's case for support.

Content. As noted previously, start first with the vision of the president or chancellor. Identify and document the programs, resources, strategies, people and preconditions required to bring the vision to life. Make it clear and concise. Check to see if the vision ties to the strategic plan. Ask the finance department to create models that take into account variables such as increased or decreased enrollment, endowment and government funding. Organize the content of the case so a reader can clearly understand what you are raising money for and why.

For example, take the time to communicate how changes in financial aid, student demographics, the economy and public policy impact enrollment, retention and graduation rates. …

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