The Challenge

GG+A has partnered with the College of Charleston to address two major challenges. The first priority was to assist new leadership in building an effective fundraising operation. The second was to lay the preliminary groundwork for a successful campaign.

Our Approach

GG+A’s work with the College of Charleston began in 2008 with intensive, hands-on assistance focused primarily on building the infrastructure for the College’s major-gifts program and on mentoring development officers. In 2011 and 2012, we conducted a Strategic Planning Study to assess the College’s readiness for a campaign, to determine an ambitious but achievable goal, and to recommend concrete steps for moving forward.

The key objectives of the study were to:

  • Engage prospective donors in the campaign-planning process and elicit their perspectives on the College and its case for support
  • Assess the likely level of campaign giving from select high-capacity donor prospects
  • Assist College leadership in evaluating the feasibility of raising $125 million over seven years
  • Evaluate internal readiness of the fundraising program for a campaign of that magnitude

The study process entailed:

  • Multiple briefings of key constituents by institutional leadership and staff
  • Almost 50 confidential interviews conducted by GG+A consultants with individual constituents
  • An operational review that examined the staffing, organization, and budgets of all advancement functions

After completing the readiness assessment, GG+A continued to partner with the College through the planning, quiet, and public phases of the six-and-a-half-year BOUNDLESS campaign.

One of the biggest challenges requiring strategic counsel arose well into the quiet phase, when a transition in presidential leadership understandably drew attention from the campaign message. With GG+A’s assistance, campaign leaders evaluated a variety of strategies for advancing their fundraising efforts under these special circumstances. The new president accepted the consensus recommendation on how best to proceed and embraced his campaign leadership role.

Results

The College of Charleston announced its $125 million BOUNDLESS campaign to the public in 2014. Ultimately the College exceeded its ambitious target by $14 million, concluding the campaign in June 2016 with $139 million. Achievements include doubling the College’s annual philanthropic income as well as the amount of cash available for scholarships.