This is a question-and-answer series related to community college fundraising. This is article six of the series.
Question: How do you know that you have improved the culture of philanthropy at your institution? Can you provide an example?
Answer: At our college, those who work in fundraising are employed by the college – not the foundation. Our foundation does not have employees. Also, our college has five campuses. Each campus has a person whose official job duties include fundraising. Therefore, there is a collegewide fundraising presence.
Our college has definitely improved the culture of philanthropy. When I was hired at the college in 2012, there was a negative mystique surrounding the foundation. Also, an embezzlement by a former employee did not help matters at all.
My team and I recognized immediately that we needed to lead the effort in improving the culture of philanthropy. We have improved the culture of philanthropy, and here is how we did it:
- We began to promote the foundation internally and externally. When the foundation funded college projects, we issued news releases to the media and wrote articles for college publications (including the college president’s monthly newsletter, the five campus newsletters, my division’s monthly newsletter, the monthly newsletter to the foundation board and board of trustees and the bimonthly newsletter to donors).
- We encouraged the foundation board to approve – for the first time in history – two new board positions – one for a student and one for an employee. The student and employee board members serve one-year terms, which can be renewed. The student member of the foundation board is responsible for raising funds from students, and the employee member of the board is responsible for raising money from employees. Those who have served in these positions have been effective and successful. They know what is at stake by being pioneers in these positions.
- The college president has forums at the five campuses during the fall and spring semesters. During most of the campus forums, he talks about the work and initiatives of the foundation.
- When the foundation purchases equipment for the college or sponsors a college activity, those who are purchasing the equipment or planning the activities are required to acknowledge the foundation. For example, a sign near the equipment might say “This equipment was generously funded by the HACC Foundation.” The printed program for the activity might say “This event is generously supported by the HACC Foundation.”
- The foundation has a process whereby employees can apply for funding and then present to a foundation committee to make their case for the funding. Those employees whose projects are funded are required to submit thank-you letters to the foundation committee.
As a result, there is a greater awareness of the foundation and how it positively impacts students, employees and thus the community. Colleagues speak more positively about the foundation. More foundation funds are being allocated for the college. In 2015, we raised thousands of dollars from students and raised more money from employees than we had in previous years.