Maybe I’m old-fashioned. I’ve always believed in, and preached the importance of, inspiring donors to give. I believe donors tend to give to causes in which they believe, and in which they are inspired to invest. And I believe donors invest in organizations that exhibit success in what they do, particularly when it comes to education. Powerful storytelling backed by verifiable data yield great returns. Connecting a donor’s passion with a cause’s needs and opportunities – without overstating results – lead to positive experiences for all.
The top 20 fundraising colleges and universities, for example, are a mixed bag of public and private institutions. Some are large research institutions, others are smaller liberal arts colleges (though all on the list have large research components, and significant grant income in addition to alumni support). Aside from sharing the trait that they’ve effectively cultivated donors and stewarded their gifts for many years (in some cases centuries), they also share another trait: they all attract philanthropic support based on their ability to exhibit institutional excellence. They inspire donors to invest in their work and illustrate the positive impact that work ultimately has in the lives of their students, their communities, and the world. Continue reading