The Fordham fundraising community convened on Dec. 8 for some candid, lively advice about how to win support for the University’s historic capital campaign, Excelsior | Ever Upward | The Campaign for Fordham.
The workshop, held at Fordham College at Lincoln Center, was attended by academic leaders, campaign volunteers and development staff from across Fordham’s colleges and schools. It was the first time all these groups came together for training in drawing alumni and friends of Fordham into the campaign, said Al Checcio, vice president for development and university relations. He noted that the University’s fundraising has become more decentralized, with deans playing a greater role.
Also in attendance were Stephen Freedman, Ph.D., senior vice president/ chief academic officer, and Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham.
“The work that you’re doing on the campaign, and with the campaign staff, is extraordinarily important,” Father McShane said in introductory remarks. “It is only with your help that we will be able to reach our goal in fundraising.
“But reaching our goal in fundraising is not an end in itself,” he said. Rather, he said, it is a means to meet major needs at the University, build momentum for the next campaign, and inspire the Fordham family to believe more strongly in the University’s promise.
Fordham is more than halfway toward the campaign’s $500 million goal, with nearly $307 million raised as of Jan. 12. The campaign is bringing funds for scholarships, endowed professorships, new and improved facilities and academic programs across the University.
The workshop was led by Karen Osborne, president of the Osborne Group, a consulting firm based in Mt. Kisco, N.Y. She drove home the importance of listening to potential donors, finding out what matters to them, and conveying the results their support will create.
“We have so much in education to report back on. We are accomplishing so many things in education. We just need to make it concrete and real for people,” she said.
By engaging donors, she said, “you are not only doing something amazing for this institution, you’re not only doing something really good for yourself, you are really doing something wonderful for that other person, because you’re giving them an opportunity to be better, to do more, to change the world in ways that they wouldn’t if you hadn’t come by.”
Her message resonated with campaign volunteers including Chris Fitzmaurice, CBA ’84, chairman of the campaign for the College of Business Administration.
“This training was great. It really helps the volunteers articulate the very positive societal impacts of this campaign,” he said.
Betty Burns, FCLC ’83, also found it constructive. She joined the campaign because Fordham changed her life, and saw how her experience could help the campaign.
“Once you’ve got your own personal passion for an organization—and clearly I have one for Fordham—it’s easy to shift that to the other side of the table,” said Burns, co-chair of the Fordham College at Lincoln Center campaign. “Once you develop Fordham as a common denominator, I can’t imagine people not wanting to step up and do something for the annual fund or the capital campaign or start to participate more actively in some way.”
Kevin Sullivan, CBA ’74, said the workshop included many good insights, such as avoiding a “hard sell.” The best thing about being a volunteer, he said, is “renewing my relationship with Fordham, [gaining]insights into Fordham, and hearing what the future will be, more firsthand than reading about it in the paper or hearing about it five months after it’s been announced.”
Jim Flaherty, FCRH ’69, co-chair of the campaign for Fordham College at Rose Hill, said the workshop was useful for those who don’t do fundraising for a living. He found it rewarding to see the commitment of Fordham’s administrators to furthering the University’s “impressive growth” in academic standing, facilities quality and other areas.