Publications & Products
Volume 2, Issue 4

Keeping a Campaign Short and Sweet

In just six weeks last year, the Foundation for Santa Barbara City College raised $700,000 and grew its donor base by 35 percent.

Santa Barbara's "Campaign for Student Success" runs from the middle of March to the end of April every year. Unlike the other campaigns at the institution, this one is almost entirely driven by volunteers.

Vanessa Patterson, the foundation's executive director, says the campaign's condensed time frame also allows for it to "build friendships among volunteers and students" and "serve as an opportunity for a large group of supporters to come together for one purpose—supporting student success—in a focused environment."

In an upcoming CASE webinar, Patterson will share practical advice and detailed plans on how to execute a brief, but intense fundraising campaign. She says that the best condensed campaigns:

  • Have a defined beginning and a defined end
  • Are motivated by a matching grant challenge
  • Have various ways for volunteers to participate
  • Are flexible in accepting small and large donations—but both receive the same type of acknowledgement

Patterson adds that participation from students, faculty and staff is a key part of a successful brief fundraising campaign is. (Patterson runs a fairly small advancement office—two full-time fundraisers and a part-time grant writer.)

Patterson says that the biggest mistake she made in her first campaign at Santa Barbara was not asking these volunteers to make a gift of their own.

"We had 167 volunteer our first year and didn't ask them to make their own significant gift—regardless of size," she says. "Not only did we leave donations on the table, but nothing is more important than having someone making an ask to say, ‘I hope you will join me in supporting our students by donating to the Campaign for Student Success.'"

By the end of her second campaign, Patterson grew the college's active donor base by 150 percent. This year, she says she hopes to double that. She believes any institution with a small fundraising staff can have similar success with this campaign model.

"Every time you speak to a donor, mention your campaign," she says. "Share with them that your goal is to expand and grow your community of support. Ask them to help you. Say there is nothing more important than the work your foundation is doing and what they are doing to help your college and students."

Please share your questions and comments with Marc Westenburg via email at or +1 202 478 5570.

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This article is from the October 2012 issue of the Community College Advancement News.


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Short and (Very) Sweet: Implementing a Six-Week Fundraising Campaign
Oct. 23, 2012

Motivating Your Community College Fundraising Board
Nov. 6, 2012

Small Shop, Big Results: Rebuilding Your Community College Alumni Program
Dec. 11, 2012

Dates Just Confirmed!
Conference for Community College Advancement
Nov. 2 - 4, 2013
San Diego, Calif.

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