Voices May/June 2022
Q: I’m looking for best practices for a donor report template for individual companies or organizations that fund chairs, professorships, and centers. Do you send this report digitally? When do you send it? What are your procedures for getting faculty to contribute?
A: “We send reports via email and post, depending on the type of donor and the donor’s preference. Often, getting a printed report in the mail is more impactful. We call them donor impact reports, designed to show how the donor has made a difference through generosity. To collect information from faculty, our basic template for the report asks questions such as: What impact does your work/research have on people? What did you hypothesize before beginning your research? Has this donation leveraged other support? We give them a suggested word count, too.” —Tori Darnell, Deputy Director of Advancement, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia
“I created and manage UC Berkeley’s endowed chair and endowed professorship impact-reporting program. Each report is a first-person narrative from the faculty member to the donor(s) using a flexible template we created in InDesign. We mail hard copies to more than 350 donors throughout the year.” —Sasha Keller, Endowment Reporting Officer, University of California, Berkeley
Lessons from the Pivots
Four elements of creative, effective appeals
Institutions around the globe shifted fundraising efforts in 2020 and 2021 to support essential workers, medical research, and student needs. Here are four principles from 2021 Circle of Excellence Awards winners that can apply to campaigns beyond the pandemic.
- Urgency. Ulster University in Northern Ireland mobilized support for a faculty member’s work on COVID-19 testing. “[We] felt our alumni and local community would be receptive to an ask ... but we had to move quickly,” the development and alumni relations team put it. Thanks to the campaign’s immediacy, the team raised GBR£112,000 in just two days.
- Choice. At Portland State University in Oregon, U.S., students’ requests for emergency funds skyrocketed in 2020. So the university launched a 24-hour “Fill the Funds” campaign to replenish more than 20 hardship funds. Circle of Excellence judges commended the “breadth of opportunities provided to potential donors.”
- Creativity. Philanthropy supported hundreds of University of Oxford scientists’ work on the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. Oxford community members raised funds for it in a variety of creative ways, such as writing an original song and running marathons. Judges awarded the multimillion-pound effort a gold Circle of Excellence Award—calling the campaign “collaborative, creative, and original.”
- Connection. Hopkinsville Community College in Kentucky, U.S., used storytelling to drive support for a new student emergency fund. The strategy, Clear a PATH: Passionate Aid That Transforms Right Here, won a Circle of Excellence Award for fundraising on a shoestring. Judges wrote, “This confirms that … philanthropy is personal, and donor passion drives it most often.”
Article appears in:
Diversity and inclusion, engagement, leadership: Inside the challenges and opportunities for senior diversity leaders in higher education; integrating alumni relations and development; and resetting in-person, online, and hybrid events.