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University Fundraising 101: Trends, Analysis, & Strategies

Universities and other higher education institutions are among the most complex nonprofit organizations. Their fundraising needs and processes are understandably complex, too.

If you work in a higher education development or advancement department, there’s a lot on your plate. Campaigns, events, donor relationships, endowments, budgets, and more—it’s a big job. And if you’re new to the field, knowing where to start learning the basics might feel overwhelming.

This crash course will provide a complete overview of higher ed fundraising, including current trends, to set your institution up for success. Here’s what we’ll cover:

Graham-Pelton's university fundraising experts can help your institution thrive.

Understanding Higher Education Fundraising

Let’s start with an overview of the essentials: why and how higher education institutions fundraise.

Why do universities fundraise?

Universities and colleges need to fundraise for several key reasons:

  • They’re complex organizations with extremely diverse expenses.
  • For public institutions, government funding is subject to change and varies from state to state.
  • Operating costs are often quite high for higher ed institutions, as they include staff compensation, facilities upkeep, equipment upgrades, residential services for students, and more.
  • Over-relying on tuition as a revenue stream brings risks—if enrollment drops, operations could be disrupted. This is the same reason why private K-12 schools invest in fundraising and associations sell products and services to generate non-dues revenue.

By building robust fundraising programs and creating new donation pipelines, higher ed institutions safeguard their budgets and create the cushion needed to grow their capacity and impact over time.

How are university fundraising programs structured?

As large organizations, college and university fundraising programs usually have more complex structures than smaller or more straightforward nonprofits. Depending on the size of an institution and the scope of its fundraising efforts, its programs may be split into these key areas:

Common higher education fundraising structures, listed below

  • Development or advancement. This field of fundraising focuses on building relationships with a university’s highest-impact donors, partners, and funders.
  • Alumni relations and fundraising. The task of engaging and soliciting alumni communities is often set up as its own dedicated office or program.
  • University foundations. Like hospitals and large healthcare organizations, large institutions may create their own foundations as separate legal entities to handle all or most fundraising activities. This approach brings various potential benefits and can simplify the logistical and compliance impacts of running fundraising programs as an educational institution.
  • Endowments. Endowments are charitable funds that nonprofits, including higher education institutions, create to hold and invest donated funds. Endowments are a critical piece of the university funding puzzle, with investment returns going toward scholarships, operations, and overhead expenses each year. Multiple endowments may be created for specific restricted purposes, although unrestricted endowment funding offers the greatest financial flexibility for universities.
  • Separate college/school/program efforts. In some institutions, fundraising may be further split among separate colleges or academic programs. For example, a large university’s school of journalism may solicit its alumni or host smaller-scale giving days separately from the university (or university foundation) itself.

Not every institution’s fundraising programs will follow these exact structures, and their areas of operations could overlap in several ways.

Fundraising structures evolve to meet their institution’s needs—if they’re failing to deliver the needed results, institutions may partner with fundraising consultants. These experts can analyze and improve fundraising structures to best serve the institution’s vision for growth and student impact.

What programs and sources can higher ed fundraising include?

Universities’ specific fundraising activities and revenue sources fall into three general categories:

  • Individual giving, gifts from individual donors. This field might encompass:
    • Development or major gift fundraising
    • Annual fundraising among broader donor audiences
    • Fundraising events for targeted or general audiences
    • Planned giving through bequests and other arranged gifts
    • Non-cash forms of giving, including gifts of stock, QCDs, and more
  • Institutional giving, funding from other institutions. These could include:
    • Government grants
    • Grants from foundations
    • Corporate grants, gifts, and sponsorships
    • Donor-advised fund grants (While directed by individual donors, these are technically disbursed by community foundations or companies.)
    • For research institutions, grants from various sources to fund specific very projects and programs
  • Endowment returns, investment returns to be spent on restricted purposes or unrestricted overhead needs.

We’ll take a closer look at specific practices and strategies within these categories that higher ed institutions can use to bolster their fundraising results—jump ahead to take a look.

Graham-Pelton's university fundraising experts can help your institution thrive.

University Fundraising Today: Key Trends and Challenges

Universities and other higher education institutions sit at several crossroads that make their fundraising work uniquely challenging.

  • They’re subject to the same trends and changes in the world of philanthropy that impact other fundraising organizations.
  • They’re highly visible fixtures of their communities, serving important purposes (practically and symbolically) as builders of the future through education and research.
  • Public institutions are major recipients of government funding, often putting them in the spotlight (or crosshairs) of political debates.

Higher education institutions don’t just need to stay adaptable to changing philanthropic trends. They also need to navigate the diverse viewpoints that everyone—students, staff, funders, community members, politicians, advocacy groups, and more—hold about what university fundraising should and shouldn’t be, all while steadfastly adhering to their core values and educational purposes.

What are the most notable fundraising trends and challenges that higher education institutions face today? Let’s take a look.

Today's key trends and challenges in university fundraising, described in the text below

1. Shifting Philanthropic Habits

Like other fundraising organizations, higher ed institutions are impacted by changing philanthropic habits driven by the economy, new ways to give, and other forces. A look at the fundraising numbers from fiscal year 2023 offers some insights:

  • Giving to higher education institutions was down by $1.5 billion in 2023 at a total of $58 billion. This represents a year-over-year decline of 2.5% or 5% when adjusted for inflation.
  • Within the total amount given to higher education, there are interesting trends in funding sources:
    • Institutional giving represents 64.7% of the total giving to higher ed. This proportion increased by 3.4% over the previous year, in part because of a decline in individual giving.
    • Within institutional giving, giving from foundations decreased by 1.8%.
    • Giving by individuals decreased to represent 35.4% of the total giving amount.
  • Almost half of CASE’s survey respondents reported that their total giving actually increased in 2023 despite these topline downward trends.

Seemingly contradictory results, right? What trends drove these changes in institutional and individual giving to universities?

First, individual giving is currently down across the board.

In 2022, Giving USA found an unusual decline in individual giving (6.4% or 13.4% adjusted for inflation). Smaller-value donors have been more likely to reduce giving amid the inflationary economy of recent years.

Foundations wary of overextending their resources in a turbulent economy are also likely to rein in their giving. Payouts from foundations do seem to be slowing even as total giving continues to grow. This trend perhaps contributed to the slight drop in giving from foundations to higher ed noted above.

Next, more and more donors are turning to donor-advised funds (DAFs) to give to charity.

The CASE report cited above notes that DAF giving to higher ed increased by an estimated 4.4%.

Grants from DAFs are directed by individual donors but technically given by their sponsoring organizations, most commonly financial services providers like Fidelity or Schwab. These sponsoring organizations have skyrocketed in popularity in recent years as they’ve made DAFs more accessible to more donors. In 2022, DAF grants provided $52.16 billion to nonprofits, 66.4% of which came from these highly accessible sponsors.

What does this mean?

The decrease in individual giving rates can likely be chalked up to these two forces—cost-cutting from inflation-weary donors and the rising popularity of DAFs among wealthier donors. The subsequent increase in giving from non-foundation DAF sponsors might then have helped fuel the growth in overall institutional giving to higher ed.

We could interpret this as a complex shift in giving patterns:

  • Fewer small-value donors choosing to give
  • Smaller pools of high-value donors choosing to give more and in new ways, most notably via DAFs that complicate source attribution and blur the lines between individual and institutional giving

Of course, these are generalized trends. Every higher education institution’s position is unique. If you work in a university, take a look at your numbers—how do they compare to these trends?

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2. Endowment Stresses and Controversies

University endowments are essential for the financial stability and adaptability of many large institutions. They’ve also been under increased stress both economically and politically.

Let’s look first at the economic pressures facing many higher ed endowments.

Here are a few key findings from a 2023 report on the state of higher education endowments published by the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) and Communfund:

  • The average endowment included in the study holds $1.2 billion in assets.
    • The median value is much smaller at $209.1 million. 58% of the total market value is held by endowments that hold more than $5 billion in assets.
    • These numbers indicate a pyramidal structure to the field, led by a relatively small number of much larger-than-average endowments.
  • Endowment holdings increased (+3%), but the total value of gifts received decreased (-10%).
    • Poor market conditions for many assets in 2022 likely led many donors to rein in their gifts, particularly during the year-end season.
  • Average spending rates from endowments increased from 4.0% in 2022 to 4.7% in 2023.
    • In dollars, this represents total withdrawals from endowments of $26.2 billion and $28.4 billion, respectively.
  • 2023 saw an interesting reversal in endowment investment performance.
    • Smaller and mid-sized endowments realized much higher returns than large endowments. This is because smaller funds are weighted more heavily to publicly traded equities whereas larger funds are typically more diversified and place a greater emphasis on private assets and equities that underperformed.

University endowment allocations by size cohort, 2023
Key takeaways: Endowment investment performance has been mixed, donors have reined in their gifts in recent years, and endowment withdrawals are rising. Universities are increasingly relying on endowment funds to cover costs during a time of great change for donors’ philanthropic habits.

What’s driving these trends? Inflation and market turbulence in recent years have certainly played roles. We may also be seeing delayed impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, with bills coming due from extra spending or borrowing done during a time of revenue disruption and drastically increased logistical costs.

What about the political pressures facing higher education endowments?

The increase in political tensions and scrutiny from donors and students have created another major challenge for higher education fundraising today. Recent high-profile controversies and public spats with major donors upset by university policies have brought old questions to the forefront:

  • What values should guide endowment investment decisions?
  • How can those values be translated into concrete, actionable policies?
  • How much influence should major donors have on higher ed policies?
  • In what areas should funder input hold the most weight? In what areas is their influence inappropriate?
  • How do these answers change for publicly-funded schools and private schools?

Endowments are essential for the financial stability and adaptability of many large institutions. But there’s no question that they also bring complex considerations about public perception and social impact. 

For some institutions, frameworks like ESG (environmental, social, governance) investing offer a possible way to navigate the questions of endowment allocation. However, the NACUBO report found a slight drop in the number of endowments that include responsible investment frameworks in their practices (51% in 2023). Institutions cite multiple barriers to implementation: practical, structural, and mission-related.

Changing donor expectations, politically fraught environments, the practical challenges of adopting new investing practices, and the public perception of making such changes have all combined to create a landscape that’s trickier to navigate than ever before—and during a time when more institutions are relying on their endowments to help cover costs.

3. Repositioning Alumni Giving

The other major change in the world of university fundraising came from an announcement from U.S. News & World Report:

The 2024 Best Colleges methodology will place greater emphasis on outcomes for graduating college students. Updates will include:

  • Increased weighting on a school’s success in graduating students from different backgrounds; and
  • Removing the following factors as ranking indicators: alumni giving, faculty with terminal degrees, class size, and high school standing; such factors will be included in school profiles and comparison tools for students.

Beginning in 2024, the influential college ranking publisher will no longer include alumni giving as a ranking factor. This big shift will impact how higher education institutions approach and prioritize alumni engagement going forward.

Simply put, this change will discourage schools from thinking about alumni giving in highly transactional ways. Achieving top rankings in U.S. News lists makes a big difference for schools, but alumni giving is far from the whole picture of an institution’s overall quality and performance. And, as we’ve seen above, straightforward giving metrics are heavily impacted by the economy, donor habits, and current events that are largely out of institutions’ control.

Student outcomes are arguably more important, so by removing the incentive to prioritize giving metrics so highly, this change will encourage institutions to consider alumni engagement more holistically.

A CASE study found that engaging in philanthropy makes up just 19% of alumni engagement, while 81% of engagement takes other forms—events, experiences, volunteering, communication, etc. It’s a diverse field, and institutions should be actively encouraged to build alumni relationships more creatively.

Of course, soliciting gifts will remain important, but as higher education institutions shuffle their strategies in reaction to U.S. News & World Report’s methodology change, we’ll likely see a new surge of energy and diversification in alumni engagement tactics more broadly.

What This Means on the Ground (or the Campus Quad)

It’s clearly a time of great change in the world of higher education. While no two institutions are the same, understanding these trends and challenges (and how they’re impacting your school specifically) is critically important.

Based on the trends and analyses above, you can pull out a few potential priorities to consider for your institution:

  • Retain more low-value and mid-value donors to combat drops in individual giving rates
  • Deepen major donor relationships and new giving options, like planned giving, to retain their support in an increasingly competitive development field
  • Invest in your ability to identify, solicit, and steward donor-advised fund grants
  • Diversify alumni engagement efforts to reposition alumni giving as a core part of a more holistic strategy
  • Review your endowment policies and practices, and update or create gift acceptance policies if needed
  • Bolster your endowment through increased donor engagement and retention to safeguard against further economic turbulence, government funding cuts, changes in foundation giving rates, and all kinds of other potentialities.

Understand the environment and your institution’s position, and you’ll be able to more easily identify the right priorities at the right time.

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10 Current University Fundraising Strategies to Explore

So, how do you put all these insights and takeaways into action? We’ll now take a closer look at specific strategies higher education fundraising teams can use to address today’s trends, adapt to changing institutional needs, and reinforce best practices.

Modern higher education fundraising strategies, explained below

Update your approach to alumni giving.

In light of U.S. News & World Report’s recent move away from alumni giving metrics as ranking factors for institutions (and an increased focus on graduation outcomes for more diverse segments of students), it may be time to reevaluate your approach to alumni fundraising. Try answering these questions:

  • How does your university currently approach alumni engagement and fundraising?
  • Is fundraising treated as part of a broader engagement strategy, or are engagement opportunities like non-fundraising events siloed away?
  • What is your current alumni giving rate?
  • Drilling down into your data, do any particular alumni segments (age, academic program, location, etc.) stand out as giving more or less?

Alumni giving should ideally be part of a holistic engagement strategy, fostering meaningful relationships and opportunities so that you can build up to more natural, tailored, and effective solicitations. Consider the full alumni experience or journey (that includes integrated fundraising asks) and how you can best meet alumni where they are in that journey.

Possible action items:

  • Outline potential structural changes to your alumni fundraising and engagement offices if they’re heavily siloed.
  • Identify low-engagement alumni segments and learn more about them. Build a messaging strategy and plan a handful of engagement opportunities tailored to their interests, giving capacities, etc.

Host a stellar annual giving day.

University giving days are a classic (and often highly effective) way to generate donation revenue. They hinge on alumni and community engagement, so, again, take a broader view of how best to excite these audiences rather than simply soliciting them.

Your institution likely already has established giving day traditions and strategies. Take a fresh look at them—could they be updated? How have they performed in recent years? Who is most likely to engage with them? You’re sure to find a few easy improvements to make.

Possible action items:

  • Revamp your giving day strategies with fresh theming, events, and strategies (like many of those discussed below).
  • Consider whether the structure of your giving day strategy is serving your current needs.
    • For example, if distinct departments or schools in your university take part, how autonomously do these strategies operate? Do you have a university foundation that oversees the campaign? Are giving day donations automatically unrestricted annual gifts, or are they funneled to department-specific restricted purposes?
    • If you have a specific funding need (like increasing your endowment), make it a real priority in your giving day strategy!

Upgrade your prospect research strategies.

Prospect research guides your fundraising strategies and ultimately boosts their effectiveness and ROI. By targeting the right audiences and individuals with the right messages, you save your development team time and help them raise more.

But prospect research isn’t a static practice—your approach must be regularly reviewed and refreshed to stay as effective as possible.

Ongoing donor qualification and prospect portfolio management are critical pieces of a winning approach. Prospect research tools and technology are constantly changing, too, like with the rise of AI-driven platforms that help further streamline your work.

Continuously compare your institution’s fundraising priorities to your prospect research practices. Are they aligned? Are there gaps?

For example, engaging and retaining mid-level donors may be increasingly important for your university amid shifting donor habits and drops in individual giving. However, mid-level donors should not be thought of as major donors with lower giving capacities—they often have unique markers that blanket development research practices can miss!

Possible action items:

  • Review your prospect research practices to identify areas where they can more intentionally support your current development goals.
  • Implement updated prospect qualification and portfolio management processes if needed.
  • Consider investing in upgraded prospect research technology to tap into the power of AI to effortlessly find hidden trends and insights.

Find out how Graham-Pelton can help you with prospect portfolio management.

Invest in your DAF fundraising capabilities.

As discussed above, donor-advised funds (DAFs) are a major new force in the fundraising world. Organizations of all shapes and sizes need to understand how to approach their unique challenges:

  • DAF gifts may be received anonymously, complicating donor recognition and stewardship.
  • Identifying prospective DAF donors is difficult since this information is not publicly available.
  • DAF fundraising must be clearly promoted, as donors may not think to give to your institution this way unless prompted.

By taking steps to make DAFs an intentional priority, with their own web pages, promotional materials, prospecting processes, and gift facilitation tools, you can address these challenges head-on. The investment is worth it, even if you start small—DAFs are increasingly favored by major donors, are more accessible than ever, and hold record amounts of wealth already explicitly set aside for philanthropic purposes.

Possible action items:

  • Learn more about DAF donor characteristics, identify this segment among your alumni and donors, and survey them to learn who has or is interested in DAFs.
  • Add DAFs to your institution’s Ways to Give page, and consider creating a standalone page or microsite to house all your information about non-cash forms of giving.
  • Begin mentioning DAFs in broad and targeted outreach to cast a wide net and begin raising their visibility in your donor community.

Promote more non-cash giving options.

Speaking of DAFs, it may also be a smart choice for your higher education institution to diversify the other types of non-cash gifts it promotes and accepts. In addition to DAF grants, these can include:

  • Gifts of stock
  • Cryptocurrency
  • Qualified charitable distributions (QCDs) from eligible IRAs
  • In-kind gifts of artwork, real estate, vehicles, etc.
  • Various types of planned gifts, including bequests, insurance beneficiary designations, and charitable annuities

Not every type of non-cash will reverberate with enough of your donors to warrant specific investment, but it’s still helpful to consider your options. Successful alumni likely own stock or crypto they’d be willing to donate if you educate them about the tax benefits of these kinds of gifts. Older donors nearing or post-retirement age may find the philanthropic flexibility of QCDs and planned gift arrangements uniquely appealing.

Accepting non-cash gifts has been shown to accelerate growth and even increase annual giving habits because it 1) expands your pool of prospects, 2) taps into diverse giving motivations, and 3) draws from saved assets rather than cash, which can unlock greater generosity when combined with the tax benefits of these gifts.

Possible action items:

  • Audit your current non-cash giving efforts. What types of gifts have you received? Do you intentionally promote them? Who gave them?
  • Determine the types of gifts that will be your best candidates for investing time and attention in. Study your donor and prospect data.
  • Ensure these gifts are represented on your institution’s or foundation’s website, train your development team on how to talk about them, and begin promoting them.

Create a legacy society.

If your institution wants to prioritize planned giving or already has a program in place, here’s a proven strategy for supporting your goals: Create a dedicated legacy society just for planned gift donors.

As exclusive membership programs, legacy societies bring a few significant benefits. They open up new ways to engage these donors, simplify facilitating those engagement opportunities, and create a new perk full of social proof that you can use to promote planned giving to other donors.

Possible action items:

  • To launch a legacy society, outline a few details: its name, the specific perks or first batch of unique opportunities it will offer, and who will manage it.
  • Create a quick web page about your legacy society to begin compiling information, media, and testimonials in one place.
  • Reach out to your planned gift donors to notify them of an exciting (free) new membership option, and add mentions of your society to any promotional materials about planned giving.

Highlight impact in new ways.

Consider the recent methodology change in U.S. News & World Report’s college ranking system. Its new emphasis on graduation outcomes for students from diverse backgrounds is the perfect cue for higher education institutions to review how they report on impact and success and what that approach says about their priorities.

Graduation rates and graduate employment rates are now particularly important.

How effectively are you collecting and using this data? Are you able to analyze and filter it by a variety of segments? What other ways can you measure student success? Engagement? Satisfaction? Think holistically.

Some of the most important places to ensure your institution presents a well-rounded picture are on prominent web pages and brochures for prospective students.

Of course, your university puts out a lot of messaging on different channels, tailoring them to resonate with different audiences. Graduation rates may not be relevant in some cases, and that makes sense. However, the key to successfully improving your impact reporting approach is to ensure any priority metrics remain visible and front-of-mind to those who create marketing and fundraising materials. If they’re not made visible, they can fail to be adopted.

Make sure that your underlying brand guides and fundraising cases for support include the metrics you want to be featured. When team members use these resources to develop new messaging, remind them of your impact reporting priorities.

Possible action items:

  • Review your university’s current impact data collection processes to identify gaps that prevent you from communicating more diverse or holistic success metrics.
  • Consider if your institution’s workflows may be blocking progress on this front. If data is collected, is it shared with the right teams that would benefit from it?
  • Update your messaging guides, fundraising cases for support, and other brand documents as needed.

Get the support you need to create your case for support with Graham-Pelton.

Audit your endowment practices and policies.

University endowments, while critical for financial stability and covering essential costs, bring complex considerations. Political, social, and economic concerns all converge to put endowment practices in the spotlight.

This might be the right time for your institution to audit its endowment practices and policies. Regardless of whether you eventually make changes, understanding your current state is part of operating responsibly. Analyze your asset allocation, survey your endowment team to learn more about their workflows and needs, and review any questions you’ve received about your endowment from donors, students, and partners.

Possible action items:

  • Discuss the need for a review of your endowment practices and policies with the relevant leadership team members.
  • Work with your institution’s financial professionals or contract a third party to identify areas for improvement in your endowment practices, whether that involves values alignment, logistical updates, or investment strategy.

Consider building a quasi-endowment.

For some higher education institutions, creating an additional layer of financial flexibility may be prudent.

A quasi-endowment is a fund that operates like a typical endowment but can also serve as an emergency fund. Quasi-endowments are generally created and restricted to specific purposes by institutional leadership (not donors), meaning they can be unrestricted if needed. They are not intended to be permanent but should be considered long-term investments to deliver the most value for your institution.

Depending on the mix of restrictions in your funding structures, your needs, and your current capacity to start a new fund, this approach could be a helpful way to build additional reserves.

Possible action items:

  • Build alignment and buy-in for a new quasi-endowment if needed. Determine if it will be initially restricted and for what purpose.
  • Review potential funding sources for the quasi-endowment. These usually include unrestricted bequests and excess operating revenue.
  • Work with your institution’s financial and legal professionals to set up your new fund.

Try a comprehensive model for your next capital campaign.

If it’s time for a major campaign to fund an expansion, renovation, or other high-impact capacity investments, consider taking a comprehensive approach.

Comprehensive capital campaigns count all incoming campaign revenue toward the overarching fundraising goal rather than focusing on single channels. Universities often rely on this model because its flexibility makes it easier to integrate many complex revenue priorities and goals.

Possible action items:

  • If it’s time for a capital campaign, review the structure and results from your institution’s last campaign.
  • When you’re ready, consult with fundraising experts to analyze your fundraising and revenue channels.
  • Conduct a campaign planning study to hammer out the details of your campaign plan and goals.

Graham-Pelton's experts can help you conduct a feasibility study that prepares you for capital campaign success.

Essential Considerations for More Effective Higher Ed Fundraising

Whether you want to implement one (or several) of the strategies listed above to improve your higher ed institution’s current fundraising operations, there are a few essentials to keep in mind. These key considerations will help your development and other fundraising efforts succeed in the long run:

  • Data and organization. Your institution needs organized data processes and structures built to handle the task. A robust CRM, integrations with your other platforms, and clearly defined data collection and entry protocols across teams are critical. This is a huge topic in itself, so conduct further research and consider partnering with a technology expert specialized in higher ed if your institution needs a technology upgrade.
  • Governance. Policies and guidelines keep your fundraising work organized, give staff clear processes to follow, and build trust with your community. Regular reviews of your governance, oversight, investment, and reporting practices are recommended. If developing and implementing new fundraising programs, pay extra attention to building the appropriate governance structures.
  • Balanced prioritization. With multiple revenue streams and complicated expenses and financial structures, staying aware of your institution’s most current development needs and priorities is a must. There’s a lot going on, so you need the data and clear lines of communication to understand which programs need attention. Your advancement team should stay on top of its prospect pipelines (with effective portfolio management) and create a standardized reporting process to give fundraising leadership visibility into how all the pieces fit together.
  • Expert support. Few institutions have the capacity and expertise to go it completely alone. Fundraising consultants who specialize in higher education can offer the guidance, strategy development, analysis, and even outsourced services you need to build your institution’s future. By turning to external support when needed, you save your team’s time and ultimately safeguard your resources. In some cases, like with capital campaigns, expert input helps to protect your major investments of time and money while building more institution-wide buy-in and support.

How Graham-Pelton Can Help Your Higher Ed Institution Raise More

Higher education institutions commonly seek professional support from fundraising consultants because, as we’ve seen, higher ed advancement can be complex. Plus, when resources are already tight, it’s difficult to find the time and buy-in needed to make significant fundraising capacity improvements.

University fundraising consulting services span a broad range. There’s a vendor for any possible need, so the key before beginning a consultant search is to clearly define your unique needs.

For example, the experts at Graham-Pelton offer these higher ed advancement services:

  • Annual fund optimization and strategy development
  • Capital campaign counsel and planning studies
  • Prospect identification for campaigns
  • Advancement assessments and growth planning
  • Board and volunteer engagement strategies
  • Case for support development
  • Data analytics and integration
  • Alumni engagement and surveys
  • Interim advancement staffing to fill critical gaps

Learn more about these services or contact us—we’ll be happy to answer any questions you have.

Success Stories: Best Practices in Action

Want to see real-life examples of higher education fundraising successes? Check out our case studies of projects we’ve completed for universities:

University fundraising case studies - click to learn more

Click to Explore Case Studies

Our professional guidance, specialized experience, and custom support help higher education institutions transform their approaches to philanthropy. 

The Graham-Pelton team can support your quest to solve your university’s unique challenges, unlock strategic growth, and navigate today’s challenges with confidence. Contact us to discuss your needs—we’ll lay out a custom strategy for your institution and community.

We also encourage you to keep learning with these additional resources about advancement best practices:

Graham-Pelton's higher education fundraising services will help your institution thrive.

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