University of Texas

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Having raised $3.1B in their previous campaign, the University of Texas recognized the compelling asset they had developed in the form of strong and abiding relationships with their donors and prospects.  As UT began the planning process for their upcoming campaign including significantly increasing their number of frontline fundraising staff, they identified the opportunity to achieve a whole new level of fundraising by seeking larger gifts, enhancing collaboration internally and creating a shared donor experience externally.

With that goal in mind, the University began its partnership with Plus Delta by engaging 30 gift officers to define the UT Austin fundraising methodology, and to impart this approach across the University’s entire Development team.

Of the fundraisers engaged in Plus Delta’s UT Austin DFF program, 50% had been in frontline roles for at least 10 years and 70% held some sort of managerial position at the University.

Highlights

  • UT Austin self-reported quantitative return on investment (ROI) of $37.7M within 6 months of completing the Discipline of Frontline Fundraising (DFF) program
  • Gift officers created effective philanthropic partnerships by building on strong donor relationships through the use of thoughtful questions and collaboration, thereby generating solicitation amounts based on donors’ desired impact vs. loyalty gifts
  • Sustainable behavior changes among participants that fostered internal collaboration, including the use of a common fundraising process and a shared vocabulary

Goals

  • With new leadership, the university sought to build a more consistent approach to fundraising that would yield higher conversion rates and larger gift amounts while creating a shared experience for donors.
  • Moving from a highly decentralized development operation to an integrated culture in which multiple units, including central Development, could collaborate more efficiently and consistently.
  • Transitioning donor relationships from an emphasis on stewardship and customer service (generating repeat gifts of similar sizes) to a collaborative and transparent partnership that yields larger gifts and increased donor satisfaction.

Results

  • Participants self-reported $37.7M of gifts that were raised leveraging the Plus Delta coaching, tools and skills. Of these, gift officers reported:
    • $14.7M closed that would not have otherwise
    • $5M closed at a higher amount than originally projected
    • $18M closed faster than originally forecast
  • Gift officers gained the skills, tools and confidence to address challenging donor situations, with 80% of participants reporting significant or transformational improvement in this area.
  • 80% of DFF program participants reported significant or transformational improvement in effectiveness of qualification and the quality of questions they asked prospects and donors. As a result of shifting to a seek-first-to-understand approach, one donor shared with their gift officer, “My next gift, for the first time, will be something I care about.”
  • By integrating a vigorous commitment to the use of a defined, disciplined donor engagement process (versus a singular focus on activity metrics), UT Austin is experiencing increased gift sizes (fewer loyalty gifts), shorter solicitation cycles (more gifts closed in a given fiscal year), and increased job satisfaction (78% of participating gift officers reported significant or transformational improvement in their job satisfaction).
  • Driven by the initial program’s strong results and as a strong onboaring process for some of the new members to the team, UT Austin reengaged Plus Delta Partners for 3 additional cohorts of 15 gift officers each to participate in the Discipline of Frontline Fundraising (DFF) program.

“Plus Delta has been a great partner for us in building a stronger culture of fundraising within TEXAS Development.  Participating in their cohort-style program has enabled our fundraising team to strengthen relationships across campus with their peers while improving their ability to move donors into meaningful, intentional gift conversations.”

Scott Rabenold
Vice President for Development
University of Texas at Austin