Bentz Whaley Flessner

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Fundraising Campaign Trends

BWF Client Advisory — July 26, 2017

2015 CASE Campaign Report

Earlier this month, the results of CASE’s 18th survey of educational fundraising campaigns were released in the 2015 CASE Campaign Report. Below, we’ve highlighted some of the fundraising campaign trends and what we think they could mean for your organization.

The top 1% of donors continue to drive campaign success.

While the total campaign dollars raised by the top 10% of donors slightly declined between 2013 and 2015, from 94% to 92%, the importance of the top 1% of donors has increased. Between 2006 and 2015, the top 1% of donors has increased from providing 64% of campaign funds to providing 79% of campaign funds. Advancement teams need to continue focusing on this small subset of the constituency that has the capacity to make leadership gifts to drive campaign success.

 

Campaign goals are back on the rise.

In the 2013 report, we saw a new largest campaign goal of $4.5 billion, but also saw the median campaign goal drop from $43 million in 2011 to $33 million in 2013. In the two years since the 2013 report, Harvard announced a $6.5 billion campaign that set a new record campaign goal, and the median goal has increased dramatically from $33 million to $75 million. It appears that the state of campaigns in higher education is healthy, and these institutions have largely recovered from the great recession.

 

 Some campaigns are getting longer in duration.

Across all respondents, the average campaign length (including all phases) has dropped from 76 months in 2013 to 72 months in the 2015. However, campaigns with goals less than $50 million and goals of $1 billion plus have increased from 39 to 43 months and 89 to 95 months respectively. Your organization should be regularly evaluating the campaign goal and length based on progress prior to public launch to ensure your organization will meet the campaign goal on time.

 

Alumni are contributing a larger percentage of campaign goals.

The average percentage of total campaign dollars provided by alumni is up from 33% in 2013 to 36% in 2015. More specifically, in campaigns with goals from $50M to $999M, alumni contribution has increased from 30% to 33%, and in campaigns of $1B+, alumni support has increased from 32% to 39% between 2013 and 2015. The average percentage of total campaign dollars coming from trustees has decreased from 15% in 2013 to 7% in 2015. As alumni dollars rise and participation declines, it is evident major gift programs continually become more important. Make sure your team is engaging the right alumni for the right initiatives for leadership-level gifts.

 

Fundraising staffs are getting larger.

Across all respondents, the average number of fundraisers (including major gift staff) is up from 20.7 in 2013 to 33.7 FTE in 2015. This growth is largely driven by staffing increases at organizations with campaign goals less than $50 million (from 1.8 FTE in 2013 to 3.1 FTE in 2015) and organizations with campaign goals between $50 million and $999 million (from 9.1 FTE in 2013 to 11.7 FTE in 2015). Organizations with campaign goals of $1 billion plus, actually saw a slight decline in fundraisers from 91.9 FTE in 2013 to 90.3 FTE in 2015. Major gift staff, as a subset of total fundraisers, increased across all campaign sizes. As other trends tell us major gifts drive campaign success, it may be appropriate to increase the total fundraisers, and specifically major gift fundraisers, on your team as you move into a campaign. Make sure your other advancement departments are ready to engage and steward these donors appropriately.

Bentz Whaley Flessner helps colleges and universities focus their capital campaigns on more than raising funds to achieve a specific dollar goal. We help our clients use capital campaigns to expand ongoing philanthropic support, attract new donors, and raise giving sights of current donors. Contact us today to learn more. Together, we transform philanthropy.

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