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Fundraising Campaigns

Most academic leaders involved in fundraising today recognize the importance of targeting intellectual passion and academic programs--in most cases, collaborative approaches to addressing complex problems--as the foundation of a large campaign. They take this approach rather than focusing only on something static such as a building or collection of endowed chairs.

When an institution builds a campaign on academic excellence, it signals a mature spirit of collaboration that bodes well for its future. But one challenge of this approach is engaging faculty in ways that ensure the success of both the campaign and the academic programs engendered by the fundraising effort. In a well-conceived campaign, the development of intangible assets such as faculty collaboration is an important by-product.

Susan Frost has studied faculty engagement and academic program development at fourteen top universities. She has learned the importance of bringing together faculty in a spirit of collaboration that enables the intellectual passions of faculty to shape the university. Her findings hold an important lesson for leaders: seize the opportunity of a campaign to demonstrate that scholars and intellectual inquiry are indeed the foundation of an institution's strength.

Currently Susan and Larry Hirschhorn of CFAR-The Center for Applied Research are involved in an ongoing project in which they are using their own methodology to encourage a university's board, top leaders, and engaged faculty members to collaborate on shaping the institution's future and strengthening its financial security. During the campaign's planning phase, they engaged with leaders and scholars to design the academic components that will form the backbone of the campaign. As a result, the institution is poised to make significant intellectual contributions to society and attract significant new donors, while also creating a stronger vision of itself. Recently Susan and Larry described their ideas and experience in the newsletter, Academic Leader .

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