Publications & Products
Volume 5, Issue 2

Industry Connections 'Goldmines for Fundraising'

A community college known for its hospitality program is forging new partnerships with local business leaders by inviting them to participate in an industry-specific advisory committee.

Last fall, Libby Villavicencio, executive director of the Hocking College Foundation in Nelsonville, Ohio, began hosting twice-a-year advisory committee meetings with leaders in the local hospitality industry to discuss the college's relevant academic and workforce development programming.

"It's a chance to talk about the curriculum and changes in the program," she says. "We also talk about the challenges facing the region's hospitality industry."

Villavicencio says the conversations are a precursor to the public launch of a $5 million capital campaign to renovate a building into a workforce development center.

"We're trying to engage these business leaders in a meaningful way so that some of them might become donors," she says. "Some of them have already self-selected to help fundraise. Also, we wanted to meaningfully engage them in our program so that we could really understand if it is meeting their needs."

Even if some of the attending business leaders do not donate to the capital campaign, Villavicencio says they might look to the college for corporate training—yet another critical source of income for the institution and its workforce development efforts.

"You have to listen and let people talk and give their opinions," she says. "We try to ask a lot of good questions and not talk a lot. Just by giving them time to talk about what they thought about our program, what it should be and what they need out of their prospective employee, that's really cultivation."

Villavicencio says other community colleges should consider following Hocking College's lead in regularly engaging business leaders in a specific industry—particularly if an institution is known for or has a strong program in a prominent local field.

"Advisory groups are goldmines for fundraising," she says. "Even if they're not approached, [its members] end up being very good prospects. And donations don't have to be for a capital project. They can just be for scholarship support. This is just a really good way to engage corporate leaders."

To learn more, browse the full list of CASE resources about corporate and foundation relations. (A CASE log-in may be required to view some of the materials.)

This article is from the Aug 2015 issue of the Community College Advancement News.

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