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Fundraising Fundamentals, Section 5.1


Key Questions You Must Be Ready to Answer

Fundraising can present many dilemmas, and institutional leaders must be prepared to answer difficult questions and address misconceptions both from among their own colleagues and from potential supporters.

These questions and misconceptions must be taken seriously and addressed thoughtfully. The right answers will reassure sceptics and help build the mutual trust that is essential to successful fundraising.

Some of the more commonly posed questions and misconceptions an institutional leader might encounter include:

  • Why are we raising funds? Won’t the government use fundraising as an excuse to reduce their investment?
  • I am an academic, not a fundraiser. Why should I get involved with fundraising?
  • How do I know that you will spend my donation wisely and on the things that interest me?
  • Why should I support you and not another university or charity?
  • If you believe so strongly in your cause, do you give money yourself?
  • Is there anyone you wouldn’t ask for support?
  • These donors will be telling us how to run the institution, what to research and what to teach if we are not careful.
  • Why are you asking me for support and not [insert name]?
  • I already invest in your research programmes and recruit your graduates. Is that not enough?
  • Fundraising is expensive, and all the fundraisers seem to do is stand about at cocktail parties chatting to people and take long overseas trips. Why should I give you money if that is what you will spend it on?

How you address these issues depends on the characteristics of your individual circumstances and institution. Having a strong framework of policies and procedures in place will help strengthen your credibility and provide the evidence you need to back up your responses.

Action Item
  • Review these questions and make sure you have sound policies and procedures in place.

You Might Also Want to Read:

The value of fundraising in an educational context
Common objections and their rebuttals
Adapting and modifying practice for your institution
Policies and procedures

Roger Makanjuola discusses corruption, maintaining integrity and the importance of gift accounting and stewardship.