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By Kevin Leahy • October 22, 2019

3 Ways to Expand a Culture of Philanthropy for Colleges and Universities

Colleges and universities have a dedicated advancement teams comprised of many different roles -- major gift fundraisers to annual fund directors, prospect researchers and advancement services professionals. The list goes on. But sometimes, its leaders outside of the advancement office who have the perfect expertise and touch to perpetuate giving and establish a culture of philanthropy that extends well beyond the walls of advancement.

Why? Institutional leaders, such as deans, board members, professors, athletic directors, and more often feel the direct impact of a gift and their proximity to that impact gives them to express gratitude in ways that often inspire future giving. (To read more about this concept, Gravyty Connect, an AI tool that's designed to allow non-traditional fundraisers to play an important role in advancement).

For example, Mike Lynch, Senior Director of Athletics and Athletic Advancement at Babson College, isn't just focused on athletics. He also contributes to overall advancement efforts and understands that his connection with alumni can open the doors to generosity that's critical to student-athlete success at the college. By expanding the culture of philanthropy beyond the walls of advancement, Lynch plays a critical role in showing donors the impact of their generosity.

Here are 3 ways colleges and universities can grow a culture of fundraising across campus:

1. Bring non-fundraisers into the fundraising process with minimal effort. Many deans are eager to engage in fundraising activities that grow the resources and profile of their institution. However, as any dean will tell you, managing portfolio of donors and acting as a frontline fundraiser,  is quite difficult to balance with the other demands of the job. That's why Gravyty Connect was created. Gravyty Connect allows non-traditional fundraisers -- such as deans -- to participate in fruitful fundraising efforts by using AI to recognize when gifts are received, who they impact the most, and prompt a timely and personalized stewardship messages in coordination with the advancement office.

Bringing non-traditional fundraisers, such as deans, into advancement efforts.

2. Connect donors with the leaders that matter most to them. Some donors are interested in funding specific interests, initiative, or projects. Colleges and universities can expand a culture of philanthropy by asking the organizational leader who best represents a donor's interest to personally thank that donor for their contribution, creating an opportunity to build a new relationship. For example, if a donor were to give a gift that ensures the track team has new uniforms, stewardship from your athletic director could be the perfect touch to build a lasting relationship. 

Give leaders who are closest to the impact of a gift express thanks.

3. Spread Mission-Critical Activities Throughout Campus. The concept of 'Integrated Advancement' is not new, in fact Chris Tobin, executive vice president of institutional advancement and executive director of the College of Charleston Foundation, has been speaking publicly on this concept for more than a year. As he explains, there's a rapidly changing environment right now within philanthropy that's causing expectations and financial pressures to (rightfully) increase across the board. In his view, advancement shops are tasked with innovating to address the pressure and ensure that advancement is seen as a strategic partner that expands an organization's mission.

CHRIS TOBIN, COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON, DISCUSSES INTEGRATED ADVANCEMENT AND GROWING A CULTURE OF PHILANTHROPY TO PACKED AUDIENCE

'Integrated Advancement' goes back to the roots of philanthropy and allowing relationships to drive fundraising. In this model, advancement identifies and builds relationships that align an organization's strategic goals with donor affinity. Advancement professionals then work as consultants and facilitators, working with and seeking out organizations leaders (non-traditional fundraisers) who are the best advocates of those affinities. The result is an engrained culture of philanthropy that goes beyond the walls of the advancement office.

How is this all possible?
Expecting advancement or development efforts to continue to operate in a silo is no longer sustainable. By expanding a culture of philanthropy across the campus, advancement gains the institutional partners it needs to grow philanthropy, and those leaders become directly engrained in mission-critical activities. But, how do you strategically ask more of these leaders?

In our next post, we'll discuss how artificial intelligence (AI) allows advancement to strategically guide leadership in fundraising efforts that make an impact on mission and spread a culture of philanthropy.

If you can't wait for our next post and would like to set up a free 15-minute call with Gravyty to learn how Gravyty Connect spreads a culture of philanthropy across organizations, contact us here.

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