Publications & Products
Volume 2, Issue 3

Advice for New Chief Fundraisers

Two community college chief fundraisers say colleagues who are new to leadership roles in fundraising should engage academic and board leaders in the advancement process, so that they have institutional allies in their work efforts.

Adrienne Garcia, executive director of the Hillsborough Community College Foundation in Tampa, Fla., says it's important for new chief fundraisers to build solid relationships with presidents, provosts, deans and faculty. When she started in her current role, Garcia says she felt obligated to raise money primarily by herself—and quickly.

"If I had the opportunity for a ‘do over,' I'd spend more time discussing and educating academic leaders how they can help to identify prospects and cultivate donors," Garcia says. She notes that many academic leaders believe they don't know any prospects to support the college. However, chief fundraisers can point out to them potential alumni, employers and advisory council members among others.

Lisa Gibert, president and chief executive of the Clark College Foundation in Vancouver, Wash., echoes a similar sentiment. She encourages new chief fundraisers to ensure that they understand the college's expectations of its foundation.

"Defining these expectations is a critical success of the foundation and requires a well-established protocol and dual relationship between the foundation board of directors and the college's board of trustees," Gibert says. She also stresses that chief fundraisers should establish a good working relationship with the college president, making sure that their respective roles and responsibilities are clear.

Garcia and Gibert also say that chief fundraisers should always further their professional development—read up on the profession, attend conferences, participate in webinars and engage with their peers. Both agree that learning never stops for advancement leaders.

"The foundation executive needs to be a closer, and although I have found success in my current and previous roles with the foundation, I have much to learn in continuing my development-related skills," Gibert says.

Garcia and Gibert are mentors in a new networking group—recently created by CASE—for new chief fundraisers at community colleges. The group plans to meet for periodic conference calls during which mentors will share advice with new leaders and field their questions.

Membership is open to anyone who has been a chief fundraiser at a community college for less than one year. To join, contact Paul Heaton, director of the Center for Community College Advancement, at or call (202) 478-5570.

For more information about CASE's community college resources, contact Marc Westenburg, director of the center for community college advancement, at or +1 202 478-5570.

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


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Workshop for Community College Professionals
Presented by CASE District IV
Sept. 25, 2012
Houston, Texas

Conference for Community College Advancement
Oct. 3 - 5, 2012
San Diego, Calif.

Implementing a Six-Week Fundraising Campaign
Oct. 23, 2012
2 - 3 p.m., Eastern
Webinar information coming soon!

More Community College Resources
See the full list of CASE resources for community colleges.