Santa Clara University

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santa-clara-univEngagement Highlights

  • Average gift size increased by 270% from under $50K (FY10) to $80K (FY11) to $108K (FY 12)
  • Solicitation close rates increased from 11% (FY10) to 31% (FY 11) to 84% (FY 12)
  • Discovery activity doubled from 8 to 16 new prospect visits/month from FY 10 to FY 11


Building a culture of fundraising and a supporting infrastructure to make it possible to access a large group of untapped major gift donors.

Plus Delta started with Santa Clara University while their major gifts culture was still evolving and the Development infrastructure to support more programmatic fundraising was being implemented. The Development office and the University administration were struggling to find a way to collaborate effectively, and just two people, the President and the Vice President of Development, were doing the majority of the institution’s fundraising. Multiple studies had shown that the University had a large, untapped pool of donors able to make gifts in the $250,000-$500,000 range. The University engaged with Plus Delta Partners to deploy a common
fundraising approach across the entire fundraising team and to raise gift officers’ confidence in their ability to secure larger gifts.


Santa Clara experienced significant changes in their fundraising trajectory soon after the front-line fundraising team began working with Plus Delta. In the first year of the engagement, discovery activity doubled from 8 to 16 donor visits a month. Over the two-year engagement, the average major gift increased by 270%, moving from well under $50K (FY10) to $108K (FY12). The number of solicitations stayed relatively constant, but the focus on soliciting the right people at the right time for the right
project raised solicitation success (close) rates from 11% (FY 10) to 81% (FY 12). The University also successfully built an institution-wide community of fundraisers, successfully bringing academic leaders into a more disciplined and collaborative approached to fundraising. Deans and academic center directors appreciated the transparency, structure, and common language being used by the fundraising team, making it easier for them to partner with development.

“Gift officers can usually picture what they are supposed to do, but there is often a gap around how to deliver and execute to achieve this mental image. Every one of our gift officers would say that because of the Plus Delta program they learned how to really facilitate like a fundraiser. The program takes communications to a new level of professionalism and establishes a better, more efficient way to move a donor from A to B.”

 Tomitha Blake, Santa Clara’s Executive Director of Development (2008-2013)