Making time for fundraising in an academic leader’s already busy schedule is sometimes challenging. Even though you know you play a critical role in development, it can be easy to put it off, because fundraising can seem like a daunting task.
Philanthropic success can evolve by employing a few simple tactics that lead you down a path to victory.
1. Recognize the Opportunity
The first tactic for making time for fundraising is recognizing the vast possibilities that exist for improving your college, unit, or faculty through philanthropy. While the situations of each college and university vary, all are facing challenging financial times. Yet research indicates that the philanthropic opportunity has never been greater. Investing time and energy in fundraising will enable you to accomplish exponentially more.
2. Set Ambitious Goals
In light of the opportunity, set big, audacious, important goals for your college, unit, or school—goals that will require significant investments. Be forward thinking: Consider all the ways you could grow and improve. Let your compelling vision drive your priorities. Big dreams inspire donors.
3. Utilize Your Network
You will accomplish far more as a team than you would alone. Involve your development professionals and utilize their fundraising knowledge, skills, and experience. Involve your faculty and staff. Involve your board members and key volunteers. Leverage the unique talents, skills, and expertise of each member on your team, and you will accelerate your success in achieving your organizational priorities.
4. Strategically Plan Time
Your fundraising efforts will require a share of your time in proportion to their value among your priorities. Consider how much you could accomplish with additional funding and obtain the advice of your development team. Then determine how much time you should commit. Based on the success of academic leaders we have interviewed, we recommend devoting no less than an hour a week to fundraising.
5. Put it on the Calendar
When you commit to putting it on the calendar, your fundraising time will become a regular part of your agenda. Many academic leaders who have been highly successful at fundraising set recurring appointments on their calendars to ensure they meet with their development colleagues regularly. With steady management, you will excel at your critical roles in fundraising, and the payoff in growth for your college or unit, and your career, will be well worth the time invested.
6. Call a Donor
One of the most effective and efficient ways to inspire philanthropy is to provide meaningful stewardship experiences to donors who have already contributed. In the course of your daily work, keep an eye open for the impact contributions have made in your area. Then call the donors to share that impact and simply say thank you. Deans have told us this can lead to donors asking what they can do next.
Investing the time in even one or two of these tactics can yield great dividends. Your development partner is also an invaluable resource in helping you prioritize where to spend your time to gain the most impact.
To learn more about how you can maximize the return on your time investment in fundraising, attend an Advancement Resources public workshop for academic leaders and their development partners. Follow the link below for information about our upcoming public offerings of the Professional Fundraising for Deans and Academic Leaders workshop.