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Challenge Gifts & Grants

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Talking Shop: In with the Fund Crowd
CURRENTS Article Jonathan May launched the U.K. digital fundraising technology startup Hubbub, which serves the education and nonprofit sectors, with Duncan Knox in 2011. The company is expanding its U.S. operations after winning $1 million in venture capital funding in 2016 through the VentureClash investment challenge. Currents spoke with May while he was in the U.S. studying digital fundraising and alumni relations practices at more than 40 colleges and universities. His travels confirmed the importance of relationships in fundraising—even online. “I think there’s a lot more than technology behind the success of different programs,” he says.

Advance Work
CURRENTS Article CURRENTS April 2016 Advance Work stories: MIT students continue the tradition of a piano plunge during class drop day; a recent poll gives insight into why alumni don't give; Princeton University social media staff use a game to streghthen skills and teamwork; Lakefield College School boosts giving through an alumni challenge campaign; and at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, students place apples at the feet of a statute of Minerva for luck during finals.

Pass or Fail?
CURRENTS Article Michigan State University turns a prank by rival University of Michigan into a fundraising opportunity.

Gaming the System
CURRENTS Article Some colleges find Razoo, an online platform that helps nonprofits and individuals raise money, a fun way (literally) to rally alumni behind giving.

Fear Factor Fundraising
CURRENTS Article Some leaders will do anything to raise money for their institutions, including rappelling off of a campus building.

Surging Ahead
CURRENTS Article A challenge gift can help an institution reach its fundraising goals by stimulating multiple aspects of it fundraising program. This article explains how to properly manage a challenge and takes a look at some of the possible pitfalls.

Rising Above
CURRENTS Article This article highlights eight of the 2010 Circle of Excellence Award winners. Each year the awards recognize the best programs and products in advancement services, alumni relations, communications, marketing, and fundraising.

Campaigns: Monroe Community College Foundation - Bronze Award
Best Practice In January 2007, Monroe Community College announced the Chesonis Family Foundation Challenge as part of the institution's campaign to raise funds for the PAC Center--a new athletic, fitness and recreational facility. By December 2007, the college and its foundation met the campaign goal of raising $6 million in private funds, including the $1.5 million challenge.

Annual/Regular Giving Programs: Trinity College - Silver Medal
Best Practice In February 2005 staff determined that the Trinity College Fund needed a significant increase in both the number of donors and total giving to the fund, in order to overcome budget difficulties and remain competitive with fellow NESCAC institutions. The vice president for advancement, working with the Trinity Fund staff, developed the idea for the ONE:TWO Challenge, which would set the pace for fundraising during the following fiscal year.

Principal, Major, and Special Giving Programs: University of Hong Kong - Gold Medal
Best Practice On November 1, 2005, the University of Hong Kong announced the "Stanley Ho Alumni Challenge." Alumnus Dr. Ho pledged HK$500 million ($64.1 million US) over a five year period to match alumni donations up to HK$100 million ($12.8 million US) per year. A condition of the challenge was that any amount of the annual target that was not matched by alumni donations would be forfeited. The challenge generated unprecedented donations in its first year.

Campaigns: Colgate University - Bronze Medal
Best Practice The Trustee Challenge was conceived and executed for the express purpose of funding elements of the Colgate University strategic plan. The Trustee Challenge realizes that Colgate’s educational agenda can only be realized through transformative leadership level financial support.

Sweet Smell of Success
CURRENTS Article The 2007 CASE Circle of Excellence grand gold and gold medal winners profiled in this article have taken their advancement publications, events, and programs to a higher level. These featured winners, however, are a small sample of the 319 winners from 195 institutions.

Fundraising Programs - Campaigns: University of LaVerne - Gold Medal
Best Practice In February 2004, the University of LaVerne received a $4 million conditional challenge that required raising another $12 million in cash and cash pledges over a 21-month period. Funds from the Abraham Challenge Campaign were used to build a campus center.

Fundraising Programs - Annual and Regular Giving Programs: The Web School - Bronze Medal
Best Practice In 2004, the Webb Schools launched the Gallagher Family Leadership Challenge as part of a revamp of the schools' annual fund leadership giving program.

Advance Work: Bet on It
CURRENTS Article A couple of institution presidents dared their alumni to meet annual fund targets and paid the price when alumni met those goals.

Fasten Your Seatbelts
CURRENTS Article To guarantee $10 million in state matching bonds, Oregon State University needed to raise $10 million in only four months. To accomplish this, the institution re-energized staffers, sought campus buy-in, and looked for gifts with multiple benefits. The institution's success led the legislature to make available an additional $10 million in matching bonds, and the institution secured this second match as well.

Small Office: The Power of the Challenge
CURRENTS Article King, a development officer at Keuka College, tells how the institution used a $600,000 challenge grant to draw new donors and increase giving levels, without increasing staff or budget. King listed these key steps to carrying out a challenge: 1) Identify top prospects and focus the challenge. 2) Solicit the lead donor. 3) Develop a single-message solicitation plan. 4) Make a strong final appeal.