Real Estate Agent with Bill Cherry, Realtor 0124242

Not unlike many of you, as a volunteer, I've raised huge amounts of money for my church, fine arts groups, the United Way, the Salvation Army, but never for a school or university.

My parents were always involved in church and civic work like this, and my daddy being an especially good and likable marketeer, often times chaired fund raising events.  He loved setting next to impossible goals, then with his team of workers, not only reaching the goals but exceeding them.

Texas' public colleges and universities that are not under the flags of Texas A&M and University of Texas, are finding their scholarship funds and requests for capital improvement money from the state, diminishing.  In previous years, the boards of regents and the college administrations were encouraged to raise money from alumni, foundations and private donors, but in reality, their feet weren't held to the fire to achieve a specific goal each year.

But things are rapidly changing.  And what we are learning is that with all of their resources -- marketing professors, art and graphics professors, communications specialists, and all of the compliment of students under their leadership -- they can't seem to set up and run a successful fund raising campaign for the college. Maybe it is that they just don't want to be bothered.  But what if it's that they don't know how?

If it's that they don't know how, then what makes them credible teachers in those fields?  Is it possible that the professor teaching insurance majors how to sell insurance, can't sell a policy himself?  If so, what purpose does he serve?

There are two basic elements that must be present for a donation campaign to be successful, and there are only two:

  • You have to show the prospective donor what's in it for him
  • You have to appeal to a reason that is personally important to him
If one or both of these are not present in the campaign, then it is impossible to reach the campaign's maximum potential.  

If I think it's important for my alma mater to have a great football team, and there is a reasonable chance that can happen if enough money is raised to pay for it, then I'm likely to give.  So what would I perceive would be in it for me?  Perhaps it would be that I would feel it would make my degree more valuable in the marketplace.

Several of the past presidents of one of the universities I attended have asked me how I would raise scholarship money if I were in their position.  It's an odd question, really, because it would seem to me that knowing how to raise funds would be one of the necessary elements set out in their job description, and that as applicants would be expected to prove up that they had done it before, and done it successfully.

I always tell them the same thing.  I give them the two elements.  And then I tell them one more piece of information. And this is important.  Contrary to what college administrators would like to believe, most graduates of colleges aren't really as connected to the college itself as they are to those professors who they feel "changed their lives."  So if you appeal to that hot button when you ask for money, your chances of success rise dramatically.

So how about naming buildings and auditoriums after those professors rather than "selling" naming rights to foundations so they can honor their benefactor?  That's how you get former students back into the fold.  That's how you appeal to their wanting to give.  You want them to say, "Those guys finally gave Dr. Jones what he deserved for what he did for me."

If I were the governor of a state, I'd explain to the boards of regents --- after all, I appointed them -- that the job is not an honorarium. They are expected to help raise money for the school.  And I would make certain the administrators knew that was their duty as well. And then I'd set goals. "You don't meet them, your job or regent's position is in jeopardy."

The time has come.  In fact, it's long past due.


214 503-8563


Comments (4)

Russell Lewis
Realty Austin, Austin Texas Real Estate - Austin, TX

Bill, like you our family has been involved in numerous volunteer activities including fund raising and you make some excellent points here. And you are so ON THE MONEY with:

There are two basic elements that must be present for a donation campaign to be successful, and there are only two:

  • You have to show the prospective donor what's in it for him
  • You have to appeal to a reason that is personally important to him

Great post!

Sep 02, 2009 12:42 AM
Charlie Ragonesi
AllMountainRealty.com - Big Canoe, GA
Homes - Big Canoe, Jasper, North Georgia Pros

The word you are dancing with in this blog is ACCOUNTABILITY It is never my fault seems to be the mantra of the day. I like this post thanks

Sep 02, 2009 07:10 AM
Brian Schulman
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA - Lancaster, PA
Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552

There's a school of thought that money raised because of a successful football team is somehow unworthy of an educational institution.  If football scholarships recruit great players, and great players cause alumni to stay connected and donate to a college, that's a good thing.

Sep 09, 2009 12:53 AM
Bill Cherry, Realtor - Dallas, TX
Broker & Wealth Coach

Thanks, Russell, Charlie and Brian!

Super additions to my thoughts.  I'm so appreciative you shared them.

Sep 09, 2009 01:44 AM