University of Iowa Foundation

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boston-collegeEngagement Highlights

  • Based on participants’ approximation of new gifts and gift increases attributable to program concepts and tools, participation in the Plus Delta DFF program generated an overall return that far exceeded the financial investment in the program.
  • Specific examples included a number of gifts that were estimated to be two to five times greater than initially anticipated, with increases of up to $1 million additional dollars.
  • Participants across all years of experience found the workshops and coaching “very valuable” (6.6 or higher on a 9-point scale).

 

Challenges

The University of Iowa Foundation increased its fundraising staff significantly over the past few years. As a result, nearly half of their gift officers had fewer than two years of experience in the field.

While the initial aim was to provide comprehensive training for these newly-hired staff, it became clear through discussion with Plus Delta Partners that the best way forward was through a sustainable organization-wide initiative that would help create a common language, shared approach, and structured process for all gift officers. As a result, the ultimate goal for the engagement included increasing fundraising yields and reducing gift cycle times for all fundraisers, regardless of tenure and experience levels.

 

Results

The University of Iowa Foundation, fielding approximately 60 gift officers and 200 total staff, engaged Plus Delta Partners to implement a cohort-based professional development program for frontline fundraisers.

Each cohort engaged in a 10-month program that blended monthly 2- to 3-hour group working sessions (each one culminating in actionable assignments in each participant’s portfolio) with individualized one-on-one monthly coaching calls, all conducted by the same dedicated facilitator.

Each participant completed a self-assessment and evaluation upon completion of the program. Summary findings include the following:

  1. Participants across all years of experience found the workshops and coaching “very valuable” (6.6 or higher on a 9-point scale).
  2. Based on a comparison of retrospective self-assessments of behavior prior to and at the conclusion of the program, participants rated themselves higher post-program in all 9 categories identified, most notably:
    Effectiveness of qualification skills
b. Ability to move prospects from cultivation to solicitation
c. Overall portfolio management
d. Quantity and quality of questions asked of prospects
e. Ability to recognize and resist acting upon assumptions made about donors.
  3. When asked to approximate the monetary value of new gifts and gift increases attributable to the application of program concepts and tools, nearly all participants indicated an estimate that far exceeded the program fee for each participant. Specific examples included a number of gifts that were estimated to be two to five times greater than initially anticipated, with increases of up to $1 million additional dollars.
  4. Finally, there is significant evidence that Iowa has succeeded in incorporating the shared language and methodology into the overall fundraising culture, from communications and process documents to meeting preparation conversations and formal strategy sessions.