5 fundraising lessons we learned in February

Here are five lessons we learned last month:

Comprehensive fundraising campaigns are the most effective means to achieve accelerated and sustained growth in private support for our institutions

While there are a number of reasons to question whether traditional campaigns have lost their relevance, the data suggests that comprehensive fundraising campaigns remain remarkably effective. GG+A’s studies of leading public and private higher education institutions between 1980-2019 show that the compounded annual growth rates during campaigns are significantly higher than non-campaign periods.

Learn more about what makes a comprehensive fundraising campaign successful, by clicking here.


Virtual events are here to stay

The COVID-19 pandemic has driven institutions to develop innovative solutions to engage donors, including virtual events. These events can offer a means of stewarding donors who are not local, unable to travel or have some other challenges. For example, Montgomery College, a three-campus community college, celebrates a donor’s gift by creating a video that served as a virtual building dedication. Virtual events can also remove barriers that often keep alumni—and young alumni in particular—from participating in events such as homecoming. Kutztown University last fall, for instance, developed a completely virtual homecoming experience with free events that didn’t require a significant time investment. That meant that an alum located across the country could pop in for 15 or 20 minutes rather than hopping on a plane to travel back to campus.

Learn more about how COVID-19 will continue to impact fundraising well after the pandemic passes, by clicking here.


Regional alumni networks need to evolve

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us that the internet can remove geographical barriers, regional alumni networks still serve a purpose, but they will need to “hybridize,” says Andy Shaindlin, Vice President for Alumni Relations at Brown University, who recently participated in a GG+A webinar, “Adapting alumni engagement: 2021 and beyond.” For example, a regional alumni network may host or sponsor regionally relevant content that also includes a broader digital component. That approach might mean that Brown’s Department of History of Art and Architecture might partner with the Brown Club of Greater San Francisco to host a webinar and streamed walking tour of a downtown neighborhood where realty and occupancy rates were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Watch the entire webinar, which explores Brown’s strategy to bolster alumni engagement, by clicking here. Read a follow-up post featuring Shaindlin’s responses to webinar participants’ questions, by clicking here.


An advancement team’s success is often tied to its understanding of institutional leaders

Every institutional leader is a different, with his or her own unique strengths and weaknesses. When an organization undergoes a leadership transition, it is incumbent upon the advancement leader to assess how an incoming executive would perform in several different situations that fundraisers often ask institutional leaders to assist, including one-on-one conversations with key principal gift prospects or donors, off-the-cuff conversations with small groups, and keynote addresses. While each scenario is important, one person may not thrive in all three. Investing the time to understand who a leader is will undoubtedly pay off because it will position an advancement team to take advantage of his or her strengths and set him or her up for success.

Learn more about how to successfully navigate leadership transitions, by clicking here.  


During a campaign’s advance phase, as much as 50% of a Head of School’s time should be devoted to cultivating and soliciting prospective donors

This estimate of time reflects not only the hours spent around a board table or behind a desk but also the direct work with prospects. Importantly, it is at the beginning of the campaign when a Head of School is needed most. After all, the Head of School typically plays the most critical role in a school’s campaign: the gift officer-in-chief. And his or her development director typically places the constituents with the greatest potential to effectuate the campaign’s success in the Head of School’s portfolio.

Learn more about the critical role that a Head of School plays during a campaign, by clicking here.

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