For more than a century, Blackburn’s student-managed Work Program has made the dream of a college education affordable for thousands of first-generation students. To meet today’s challenges associated with maintaining the high standards of this unique, nationally acclaimed liberal arts institution, Blackburn launched its Creating Opportunity Comprehensive Campaign with a goal to raise $20 million.
However…their effort stalled at $10 million.
Our analysis of Blackburn’s philanthropy program revealed several obstacles: inexperienced staff operating from boilerplate feasibility study recommendations; an underdeveloped Case for Support; incomplete donor data analysis; unclear roles and responsibilities for those involved; no operational campaign committee; and, most importantly, there was no written plan for the campaign.
Serving as interim VP of Advancement, HRR jumpstarted the college’s fundraising effort by facilitating full staff engagement in the campaign process. We developed a formal campaign plan that oriented, reorganized, reinvigorated and mobilized volunteer leadership. After customizing and applying a methodology for researching and evaluating donor opportunities, HRR guided a process that prioritized them and created individual approach strategies tailored to each donor. We breathed new life into a new and inspiring Case for Support so that it conveyed Blackburn’s story in a way that deepened the school’s connection to its donors.
The empowered staff and volunteer corps, armed with compelling and consistent messaging, confidently and enthusiastically moved forward to engage top donors in conversations about advancing the campaign. Strategic cultivation and solicitation efforts yielded significant gifts, pledges and planned gifts that surpassed the $20 million campaign goal within a year.