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Volume 5, Issue 3

Show Return on Investment of Major Gift Fundraising

By refocusing her fundraising efforts on major gifts, a community college foundation director helped solicit the largest gift in the history of her institution and helped it quickly surpass the goal of its latest campaign.

"It's my personal belief that the time and effort expended in soliciting a major gift outweighs any other type of fundraising vehicle that exists," says Angela M. Garcia Falconetti, vice president of institutional advancement and executive director of the foundation at Virginia Western Community College in Roanoke, Virginia.

When she first arrived at the institution in 2012, Falconetti reorganized her office primarily to focus on major gifts fundraising. Among the changes she made was hiring a donor relations coordinator who, in addition to other tasks, works specifically with high-value prospects.

The changes have already made a significant difference. In 2012, Virginia Western received a $5 million gift funding scholarships that primarily benefit students studying science, technology, engineering, mathematics and health care. Falconetti says the gift was the largest in the history of the institution, more than tripling the foundation's assets and the number of scholarships it provides. In addition, the college wrapped a $10 million campaign in December 2014, months before its projected completion, after it exceeded its goal by 20 percent.

Falconetti credits the support of her president and the members of her foundation board, all of whom were eager to support this change in the college's approach to fundraising. She says that any fundraiser who wishes to make a similar change at his or her institution needs this type of leadership buy-in.

"You need to present to your president and board comparable models of major gifts fundraising at other institutions to show that it can have a demonstrable return on investment," she says.

Falconetti will further discuss how to secure more major gifts at community colleges in an upcoming CASE webinar on Oct. 20, 2015.

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

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