Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Community Colleges and Foundations: For Better or For Worse

Community Colleges and Foundations:  For Better or For Worse

I had the pleasure of working with a community college for many years, during which I supported the Foundation’s public relations, marketing and fundraising efforts.  I also realized that there are many departments with very similar challenges in attaining revenue goals in support of the college.  Was the work rewarding? Absolutely! Was it challenging? Yes!

Based on my experience and those of my clients, the most rewarding aspects of community college Foundation fundraising are:

·       The donors are generous.
·       The community support is inspiring.
·       There is a lot of opportunity for growth in community college fundraising.
·       Seeing your work change lives – students receiving scholarships, employees pursuing               professional development and colleges enhancing their facilities and technology – is rewarding. 
·         The support from other community college resource development professionals throughout the country is unconditional.

The most challenging aspects of community college fundraising are:

·      Alumni do not give enough to community colleges and tend to give more to their four-year alma maters.
·         Community colleges serve more students than many four-year institutions but raise less money.
·         Community colleges have a tendency to focus on special event fundraising, which is typically less effective, more labor intensive and more expensive than other fundraising methods.
·         The fundraising teams are understaffed.
·         Public relations and Business outreach and inbound marketing efforts are insufficient.
·         Presidents who do not like or enjoy fundraising and entrepreneurship can be barriers to success.
·         Foundation boards and presidents often have unrealistic fundraising goals.

Lately, I have noticed many (mostly positive) trends in community college fundraising, including:

·         More community colleges are establishing real estate foundations.
·         Community college foundation boards are becoming more selective when recruiting board members.
·         Foundation board members are becoming more powerful and involved than college boards.
·         Community colleges are hiring more non-traditional and entrepreneurial presidents.

Here are some ideas to support your community college’s fundraising efforts:

·         Contribute to your foundation
·         Develop a good internal referral process.
·         Volunteer to serve on the foundation board and/or a committee
·         Volunteer to assist with a fundraising project
·         Volunteer to accompany the fundraising events

Please share your thoughts about some successful experiences you’ve had in community college fundraising…

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