University of California, San Francisco

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  • $31 million in gift revenue, self-reported by the program participants, representing a 1,100x return on UCSF Foundation’s investment.
  • Behavior Changes: gift officers are better at diagnosing where they are in gift conversations, prospect review meetings are more productive, and gift officers are coaching one another and role playing donor scenarios regularly leading to improved decision-making and skill development.

Challenges – Reasons UCSF Foundation engaged Plus Delta

  • Staff were operating as independent silos: unaware of each other’s initiatives and not sharing best practices.
  • Friend-raising: donors were, initially, being asked to learn more about the good work of the University rather than becoming philanthropic partners in that work which lead to longer qualification and cultivation cycles.
  • Assuming versus Qualifying
  • Staff tended to be transactional, often asking for “thank you” or “gratitude” gifts on initial visits. This created an artificial ceiling on gift amounts and left “money on the table” with donors who could have, through a more transparent and collaborative approach, bought into a more impact-driven, and larger denomination, gift.


  • Equipping the frontline gift officers with a shared donor engagement process and a common vocabulary enabled a culture of performance-based fundraising and enhanced internal collaboration. These behavior changes resulted in more transparent work with donors about their gifts, an opportunity to “reset” the dialogue and reaffirm the goal of the gift officer/donor relationship, and more focus on the impact of a gift rather than focusing solely on gratitude.
  • Enhanced discipline of qualification coupled with more effective communication tools allowed gift officers to confidently move prospects through a defined philanthropic process more quickly and efficiently.
  • A consistent, clear process that could be shared with physician partners to invite their full participation and confidence in the philanthropic process.

“Over the past two years, the Plus Delta program has not only helped our fundraisers to focus their gift conversations with donors and prospects, it has also helped break down silos within our development shop as a result of curating cohorts so that there was a mix of team representation in each group. We’ve not only experienced an increase in donor and gift activity, but an increase in peer interaction across various verticals. As such, I believe the investment produces returns well beyond the apparent bottom line of gifts.”

 Jay Budner, Executive Director of Talent Management
University of California, San Francisco