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 Sapna Varghese

Director of Advancement Research 



Raechel Winder
Office Clerk

Letter from the Director

Dear Colleagues,
H appy and prosperous New Year to all! While  it is impossible to anticipate what 2018 has in store for fundraising in higher education, I am hopeful that we will continue to succeed by focusing on current trends and preparing for changes within the industry. Data reveals that 2017 was a great year for notable gifts, with 10 big gifts that totaled $10.2 billion. This amount is twice as much as in 2016, when the total amount of the top 10 largest gifts was only $4.3 billion.
I recently came across an article titled  Leverage for Good: The New Frontier of Philanthropy in the winter 2018 edition of Advancing Philanthropy, which states that "a significant revolution appears to be underway on the frontiers of philanthropy." I thought this would be a great message to share in the first newsletter of this year.  Unsurprisingly, the article discusses several ways fundraisers will embrace non-traditional and newer methods of philanthropy in the nonprofit sector as the resources and revenues from traditional and government funding may decline. Some of the new methods that would be instituted include: using new tools such as loans, fixed incomes and social impact bonds; creating new players such as social stock exchanges, capital aggregators and internet portals; forming new types of charitable or social purpose capital pools; and utilizing new barter arrangements to increase giving through gift-in-kinds, such as volunteer time or technology.
The materialization of a "new frontier" of philanthropy will provide a more diverse, entrepreneurial, global and collaborative model than the existing model of philanthropy. In addition to providing the key differences of traditional versus new frontiers of philanthropy, the article also talks about the drivers and challenges of implementing the new methods. Some of the suggestions for fundraisers to explore are: mastering the new tools of private investment mobilization, reaching out to new partners in private investment, creating business plans for clients instead of funding proposals, being proficient in the technique of assembling structured funding packages, and understanding the relationship between risk and return. 
As I look ahead to 2018, I hope that our prospect research services will help you identify new prospects, refine major gift programs, gather donor data to optimize donor databases, and aid you in other ways that empower your fundraising efforts! As always, please feel free to reach out to us with questions, comments or any assistance with prospect research!
Best Regards,
Sapna and USM Advancement Research Team

This pair of articles from Ruffalo Noel Levitz outlines three core challenges facing higher education fundraising and three strategies higher education fundraisers can implement to succeed. The three challenges to higher education fundraising are: the growing competition for donors and dollars, the abundance of communication channels, and the shifting landscape of donor expectations. In order to meet these challenges, Ruffalo Noel Levitz suggests: rooting your strategy in data, modernizing your outreach, and personalizing engagement.
 Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan

With three donations of $1
billion or more, 2017 was the strongest giving year in the past decade, according to Chronicle data. Four foundations, four universities, and one conservation group received the biggest gifts of the year. The largest gifts were from Bill and Melinda Gates, who gave $4.6 billion of Microsoft stock to their foundation, and Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, who gave $1.9 billion to their Chan Zuckerberg Foundation. In the higher education sector, university medical centers and medical programs were the biggest beneficiaries. Click here to see a full list. The majority of these donors are channeling their gifts into their own foundations and becoming directly involved in strategizing how the money will be spent. This differs from previous generations, who would write a large check and set out a few minor priorities for what their donation should benefit. This transition is reshaping giving, according to this article by Fast Company.

Nonprofit Quarterly outlines seven nonprofit trends and eleven predictions for the coming year in this article. Trends from 2017 include more activist and constituent giving and doing, donors shifting to independent giving, and pie-in-the-sky social enterprise giving way to real wealth sharing alternatives and actions to hold businesses accountable. In the coming year, Nonprofit Quarterly predicts attacks on the civil sector, requiring a more proactive stance by advocates; social entrepreneur faddishness giving way to real collective economic enterprise; and that giving for current needs will be depressed compared to 2017's numbers due to a predicted surge in donor-advised fund giving at the end of 2017. Read the full list here.
Fired Up Fundraising predicts ten trends for 2018 that nonprofits may want to strategize for.  In 2018, there may be a further decline in trust of a society's institutions, including nonprofit organizations and how they are spending donor's dollars. Advocacy will become a new fundraising skill as government funding for the nonprofit sector comes under fire in the country. In the coming year, crowdfunding and giving days will have a great future as organizations master social media and digital sharing. Internal support for fundraising will become a make or break issue. Having an internal culture that supports fundraising staffers will raise far more money long-term. Read the full list here.
Giving patterns vary widely
 and each donor gives in manners and at times that are right for them. Recognizing giving patterns can help fundraisers plan solicitations that will increase a donor's giving over time. Building a pipeline is one of the most important functions of an annual giving program. A strong pipeline will produce a pool of prospects that have been regularly solicited, appropriately stewarded and prepared for a conversation about a major or planned gift. By seeing individual donors within a bigger context, fundraisers can determine the appropriate time to ask for a gift and help gauge when to ask for more. Read more here.