Monthly Archives: August 2014

After the #IceBucketChallenge

We knew it was only a matter of time before we got tapped for the #IceBucketChallenge, the phenomenon that is sweeping the globe.

And we were.

However, here in Central Texas we’re in the midst of a multi-year severe drought, so dumping a bucket of ice water over our heads seems a bit, well, wasteful. We’ll opt out of the cold shower and make a gift to support research into treatments, cures and prevention of the neurological disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease, which is a noble idea.

Meanwhile, all over the world, nonprofit staff, boards and volunteers are trying to figure out how they can replicate the #IceBucketChallenge to benefit their own worthy organizations.

Nonprofit staff are being told they need to come up with something that will go viral (never mind that you can’t make anything go viral; it has to be an organic process in which people buy into the idea and they choose to participate). Already a group in India has started a copycat movement called the #RiceBucketChallenge, which encourages people to feed the hungry (also a noble idea).

Professional fundraisers are shaking their heads, wringing their hands and issuing statements that while the response and the cause it benefits are just wonderful, this isn’t a sustainable fundraising model that helps nonprofits in the long run.

And they are right.

Giving needs to be a cultivated mindset if we hope to see transformative impact

Philanthropy isn’t as simple as creating a video showing folks getting doused and gasping from the shock of icy water. Nor is it be about wearing a yellow wristband (or the rainbow of copycat wristbands that followed) to demonstrate that you are among the cool folks who are in the know and do the right thing.

Nor should it be about cutting off your hair or shaving your head to help or show support for cancer survivors, or occasionally stuffing change into plastic boxes at fast food restaurants or texting a donation during a hastily produced telethon after the latest disaster.

While those gifts cannot be discounted and the organizations who receive them appreciate them, they are in reality fleeting feel-good acts that lack long-term impact. Philanthropy should be much more than a cause de jour.

We propose the #365BucketChallenge which encourages you to be thoughtful and strategic in your giving, The #365BucketChallenge urges you to commit to making recurring gifts to support the infrastructure and services provided by nonprofits, many of which are just as obscure as ALS was before the #IceBucketChallenge.

Are you in?

Faculty Milestones & Fundraising at CASE IV

By Tim Kubatzky,  CFRE

I had the great pleasure of presenting a breakout workshop at the CASE IV Mini-Conference  on Saturday, August 2, at the Pearl Hotel on South Padre Island. We talked about the wonderful and sometimes challenging opportunities to raise funds to celebrate faculty milestones. The development office often ends up very involved in these efforts if not completely in charge of them. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you plan for a successful and fitting tribute.

Who are the prospective donors? Alumni with fond memories of the professor or administrator, certainly. How about colleagues from your school or academic peers from other institutions? Did the professor have connections to an industry group or do research for companies? Some professors are known for their continuing education or certification prep courses and may have admirers outside your own alumni base. Don’t forget family and friends.

How much can you expect to raise? Goal-setting is an inexact science, but agreeing on a goal and defining how the funds will be used help give your fundraising effort momentum. The number of prospects, their financial ability and their level of interest are all factors in determining the goal. Do you have a lead donor who will get things rolling, or a person or foundation who will agree to backstop the goal so there is no possibility of falling short? You may want to define the tribute gift broadly at first–say a faculty excellence fund–and avoid calling it a fellowship or chair until you have those endowment minimums in sight.

What method will you use to raise funds? A retiring professor with corporate connections might be a candidate for a gala with table sales, while a professor who influenced international students might be better served with a mail/email campaign. Tailor your methods to your honoree and your constituents, and choose a one-off event, a traditional campaign or a crowd-funding drive based on what is most appropriate and has the best chance of success.

Do you have buy-in from decision-makers? If you set out to honor a faculty member with a tribute suggested by alumni, family or friends, make sure from the start that the intended gift is acceptable to the president, provost, dean or department chair. Ideally, the gift will honor the professor while meeting an institutional priority. Get your approvals before the word gets out to your constituents.  Development shouldn’t steer the ship–we just make sure it has enough fuel to get to port.

The elements that make for good faculty milestone fundraising efforts are the same ones that work for major gift planning of all sorts. The good news is that these faculty milestones are not uncommon, and we should embrace them for the wonderful opportunities they are.

If you would like a copy of the slides please email me at