Catholic Colleges Adjust Fundraising Efforts to Fit Economic Climate
WASHINGTON, Catholic News Service, Feb. 3, 2009 — While downsizing may be prudent for most organizations in an economic recession, the presidents of U.S. Catholic colleges said they are increasing the size of their fundraising staffs.
Philanthropic organizations and generous citizens with traditionally deep pockets may have gotten socked in the recent meltdown on Wall Street, but these presidents believe the time is still right to approach such institutions and individuals for much-needed contributions.
"The economy is bad, everyone is tightening their belts and the natural instinct is to say, 'Wait until everyone's financial situation gets stronger before asking for money,'" said Charles J. Dougherty, president of Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. "But we're on our way to having our best fundraising year ever. We just had to change the way we do our fundraising."
Like several other presidents attending the 2009 annual meeting of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities in Washington Jan. 31-Feb. 2, Dougherty said he has had to make cost-cutting measures to survive in the current economic climate, but he's actually added more staff to his development office.
"We had three major front-line fundraisers in that department and four people in administrative jobs," he told a roomful of professionals from Catholic colleges Feb. 2. "We realized we needed to get more people out on the street if we wanted to compete for those all-important gifts. So, we restructured that department, removed the four administrative people and hired more front-line fundraisers to go out on the road."
Now with 14 fundraisers in the development office, Duquesne representatives have increased their in-person visits to potential donors by 300 percent, Dougherty said.
"We've found that you have to keep going with your fundraising efforts in these challenging times, and you have to change your approach a bit," said Mary J. Meehan, president of Alverno College in Milwaukee. "We've also increased our staff in the development office, and we're finding that people are more willing to give than we would have expected in this economy."