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10 Essential To-Do’s for Higher Education Institutions Gearing Up for a Capital Campaign

Pathways:

No doubt you’ve heard it said that successful major gift fund development is “all about relationships”. We couldn’t agree more. At the same time, however, it just isn’t that simple. Real success in major gift fundraising is about strategically managing relationships with high-value donors in order to maximize their understanding of, interest in, involvement with, and commitment to your organization and its underlying mission. Even the word “relationships” is ambiguous. Major donors don’t have “relationships” with organizations. They have relationships with people in the organization. Too many put too much emphasis on the relationship with the development officer and overlook the importance of others. Relationships between your organization and its major donors actually have multiple dimensions, each increasingly important as you advance to higher tiers of giving.


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Presentation:

The case statement, also known as the “case for support,” provides a glimpse into the heart of a non-profit organization and is a vital part of any major gift fundraising effort. With over twenty years experience working with major donors we know what they are looking for in an offer. We will work with you to craft a compelling and professional case for support and guide you through the development of additional collateral materials needed to effectively present your case. We will also spend time in the field with your team to help them hone their presentation skills and train them in the “Art of the Close”.


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People:

Of all the building blocks needed to create a major gift program, none is more important than the people you have in place on your major gift leadership team. Having the right people in the right roles is a critical part of the Keystone Solution™ and we will work with you to ensure that your staff and volunteers are well-trained and appropriately gifted for their roles. If necessary, we will work with you to recruit additional members to your major gift leadership team.


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Prospects:

Any good fisherman knows that you can’t catch a big fish if you’ve got your line in the wrong pond. The future success of any major gift fund-raising program is built upon the organization’s ability to attract new donors to support its mission. To ensure on-going growth, a wide base of dynamic support is necessary, which presumes that a significant number of new major donors must be acquired and subsequently nurtured and elevated to rising giving levels. Using both “high-tech” and “high-touch” approaches we will work with your organization to identify a pool of best major gift prospects for your major gift program and to segment them into prioritized lists. As part of our prospecting services, we are also able to provide Donor Research Services to help you realize the major gift potential in your donor database and circles of influence.


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Practices:

Successful major gift fundraising is both an art and a science. The art is in the relationships, but the science is in the systems. Someone once said, “Motivation is what gets you started; good habits are what keep you going.” Putting good major gift development policies and procedures in place and getting into the habit of living by them is a critical part of making a program sustainable. Dickerson, Bakker & Associates will work with your organization to implement best practices within your major gift development department to ensure that the improvements we put in place will continue not just beyond our term of service but can be consistently applied even if you have a turnover of staff.


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Brand:

An organization’s brand is perhaps its most important asset. Most people think of brand superficially—considering only those aspects encompassing the “look and feel” of an organization (e.g. name, logo, etc.). Those brand marks are just outward expressions of your brand, however. At a deeper level, BRAND represents a promise to your constituents of those quintessential qualities that define who you are, what you do, and what you stand for as an organization. Doubt about the integrity of an organization’s brand promise almost always has a detrimental effect on giving, regardless of the effectiveness or competency of the fund development staff. Establishing and adhering to a clear focused brand is foundational in your ability to communicate who you are, what you do, where you are going, and how you will get there.


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Culture:

CULTURE refers to the collective attitudes that characterize and impact the ways that an organization’s people will perceive one another and work together. A “development-friendly” culture provides a fertile soil for giving to flourish. Dickerson, Bakker & Associates has identified six ingredients that together comprise a vibrant, development-friendly culture, and—if consistently applied—will significantly improve your organization’s ability to consistently garner high-level investments from major donors.


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Quality:

While mainstream donors may be satisfied with a simple understanding of what an organization does, major donors are more interested in what an organization achieves, or—more specifically—will achieve with the money they invest. Major donors want to know how their investment is helping bring about positive change in the lives of people. Major donors increasingly condition giving upon delivery of impact metrics, often requesting information on outcomes even before investing. Organizations that are serious about achieving success in major gift development will therefore do best when they embrace a culture that supports and encourages outcomes thinking.


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