Ideas, insights and inspirations.

This post was informed by our agency experience with clients and partially inspired by my reading of Jim Langley of Langley Innovations’ books on fundraising. It’s naive to think that everyone associated with the college is a prospective donor. It’s equally naive to expect that alumni who show up at glitzy events or receive slick campaign marketing materials will end up donating. A college can, however, increase the chances of receiving donations from various constituents by following sensible guidelines. Jim Langley, of Langley Innovations, buckets them into (a) Affiliation, (b) Agency, (c) Appreciation and (d) Accountability. Alumni likely to donate are those who: Worked on campus when they were students. Recommended Action for Colleges: Invest in work study, student research, student experience and student wellness initiatives. Remained actively engaged/involved with the school after graduation. Recommended Action for Colleges: Invite them as volunteers, interviewers and feature their accomplishments in university publications. As students, benefited from special relationships with an exceptional faculty … Continue reading

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This post was informed by our agency experience with clients and partially inspired by my reading of Jim Langley of Langley Innovations’ books on fundraising. There are hundreds of ways for capital campaigns to go wrong, but these five characteristics define all successful ones: Consequential: They set goals for lasting, measurable impact and for improvements to community, society and the human condition i.e. goals that transform the organization into an institution of consequence.  Ambitious: They aspire for attainable, ambitious goals, not institutional survivorship. They propel the organization from great to extraordinary. Strategic: They build on strengths rather than overcome institutional weaknesses. They deepen competitive advantage. Heroic: They widen the margin of excellence. Investable: They generate positive impact and returns. My next blog post will outline characteristics of various types of donors. Learn more about Elliance philanthropic marketing services.

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This post was informed by our agency experience with clients and partially inspired by my reading of Jim Langley of Langley Innovations’ books on fundraising. “If I only had an hour to chop down a tree, I would spend the first 45 minutes sharpening my axe.” – Abraham Lincoln. This sentiment specifically applies to vice presidents for advancement when planning, launching and implementing capital and comprehensive campaigns. They create a culture of giving, increase gift size and improve gift productivity by playing these five crucial roles: Embrace the Right Mindsets & Skillsets   Understand the distinctions and relationships between strategic planning, advancement, development and fundraising. Know the difference between capital campaigns and comprehensive campaigns, and deploy them appropriately. Understand student and alumni appreciation for the faculty, staff and the institution. Possess the skillset and experience in not only planning and launching a campaign but also sustaining complex operations in the field for a number of years. Lay the Groundwork Know whether … Continue reading

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This post was informed by our agency experience with clients and partially inspired by my reading of Jim Langley of Langley Innovations’ books on fundraising. College presidents, vice presidents for advancement, and board members form the trifecta for envisioning, executing and consummating a successful capital or comprehensive campaign. College presidents play these 10 crucial roles: Visioning The Visionary: Knows the fundraising goal and is able to articulate the transformative impact that the funds will have on the institution, those it serves and society at large. The Strategist: Leads strategic planning based on thorough, objective assessment of institutional strengths and weaknesses in the context of societal shifts. Involves board members, faculty, alumni and corporate partners in their strategic planning process. Recruiting The Listener: Acts as the chief listening officer, infusing stakeholder views into the evolving campaign dialogue. The Matchmaker: Helps identify faculty and staff champions for each campaign priority. Involves different board members at all levels based on their talents and passions. … Continue reading

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This post was informed by our agency experience with clients and partially inspired by my reading of Jim Langley of Langley Innovations’ books on fundraising. College presidents, vice presidents for advancement, and board members form the trifecta for envisioning, executing and consummating a successful capital or comprehensive campaign. Board members do far more than simply fundraise. They also quietly direct and choreograph the fundraising dance by playing three crucial roles: Strategist & Visionary As institutional visionaries, they: Ensure strategic planning is based on objective institutional assessment, not naive and self-serving assumptions. Apply a strategic, evidence-based, milestone-driven approach to all aspects of the campaign. Serve as sounding boards for the overall purpose of the campaign. Act as venture capitalists to ensure that campaign priorities are sensible, business plan-like and investable. Help select talented fundraising consultants and hold them accountable. Demand that funds raised are invested quickly in designated initiatives. Donor Every board member must be a lead, major or a supportive … Continue reading

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Communicating before, during and after a capital campaign requires the kind of symphonic thinking that author Daniel Pink explores in A Whole New Mind: Moving from the Information Age to the Conceptual Age. Strategic visions and campaign priorities can quickly deconstruct into campaign inventory and itemization — losing all connection to a larger and more compelling story about why a college matters and to the invitation for how donors might connect their singular sense of purpose to something larger. It’s not a matter of longer versus shorter content, but a question of what Pink calls the “relationship between relationships.” Pink talks of the three types of people that thrive when asked to overlay little and big pictures. Boundary Crossers: comfortable with abstraction, they understand how a concept like regulation can inspire donors to support the training of future financial accountants who will police insider trading and osteopathic doctors equipped to ease an epidemic of diabetes. Inventors: able to project new … Continue reading

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Alumni giving rates have dropped by more than 50% in the last twenty years. Mega-gifts continue to expand while the number of donors has declined primarily because philanthropic support from millennials has decreased. The net impact of all this is that while the total dollars raised has increased, the total number of donors has declined. These trends begin to make sense when you see the chart below of some recent societal changes. These micro-trends are reducing alumni giving rates in a unique way: continued increase in tuition and healthcare costs is leaving less money in the pockets of recent alumni; social media is exposing alumni to a variety of new and exciting options for giving; a winner-take-all mindset is concentrating wealth in higher net worth families leaving less money in the hands of middle class and lower income families; colleges are still deploying traditional ask-strategies which are out of touch with the habits of Gen-X, Gen-Y and Gen-Z digital natives. … Continue reading

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