Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Campaign Vision

For my colleagues at Georgetown, and for colleagues elsewhere, here's the first draft of our campaign vision. The purpose of this document is to a set the tone for the campaign and to make the broad case for what makes this University unique and why it matters, especially now. It is a preamble to the a financial prospectus that will follow and is designed to inspire and motivate.

I welcome your reactions. Here goes:

What We Ask of Ourselves
A Vision for 2020

“All of us (at Georgetown) enjoy a privilege that is very rare in our world – a beautiful world – but a world marked by injustice…a world in desperate need of your dreams. What you do with this privilege matters. We are not alone. We have each other. We also have women and men who need us – who are looking to us – to respond to the challenges that define our world today. In the words of former Jesuit Superior General Pedro Arrupe, we must accept the responsibility of being women and men for others: Women and men who accept responsibility not only for their own personal development…but for the collective development of the human family.”

With these words, President John J. DeGioia welcomes the freshman class to Georgetown University each fall. In so doing, he does more than orient them to a campus; he defines what it means to be of Georgetown, now and forever. It begins with not what we ask for ourselves but what we ask of ourselves, about how we will use the gifts we have been given to achieve something far greater than ourselves.

As a global university, what do we ask of ourselves as it becomes increasingly clear that all the people of the world live in one environment, one economy and one society, and that a weakness in one part, if left unattended, is a threat to the whole? As a Catholic Jesuit University, what do we ask of ourselves when cultures clash and war in the name of faith? As a university in, and so much a part of, one of the most important cities in the world, how can we ensure that its might will be increasingly derived from right? As a university with the ability to change lives and propel those from the most modest means to lives of fulfillment and reward, how do we grant admission and share our talents in the most just way to achieve the greatest possible good?

It is within this moral framework that Georgetown’s contemplates its role in, and responsibility to, the future. It is in this context that the leaders and shapers of Georgetown ask themselves another set of more specific questions to set the University’s course for the next decade and beyond. Those questions include:

How do we, in our admission practices and scholarship support, ensure the privileges of this university are accessible to strivers from many different places and of all socio-economic strata?

How might we strengthen the student experience at Georgetown to ensure that our graduates are prepared to understand and take on the challenges that define our world, today and tomorrow?

How might we further promote the generation and application of new knowledge to improve the human condition and create a widening circle of opportunity?

What must we as a University do – through our policies, practices, aspirations and actions – to develop the human family?

“There is nothing quite like this moment.”
President John J. DeGioia

These questions take on a greater urgency as a shaken nation and a world searches for the bedrock on which to build a better future. We have seen too many seemingly tall houses wash away because they were built on the sands of expediency, falsity, foolishness, fear and intolerance. We look to the institutions that remain, particularly those that have thrived over centuries, and ask which of those can still be believed in and trusted to live up to their principles and deliver on their promise. Georgetown University is such an institution. It now stands poised and prepared to make a far greater contribution than ever before.

As a University that has reached the highest levels of achievement with the most modest of resources, Georgetown offers an efficiency of purpose and performance that is perfectly suited to these times. As supporters have come to understand how comparatively modest investments in Georgetown have been, and continue to be, so efficiently converted into significant and lasting gains, they have increased their investment in the University. In fact, in the last year, in the face of the most depressed economy in the past 75 years, Georgetown supporters gave in record numbers and record amounts.

What these donors have come to see is that Georgetown is not a just a University that you give to -- to realize specific campus objectives -- but a University you give through to create a better world. They see the far reaching impact that a gift to Georgetown has, including:

How a scholarship not only supports a worthy student but how that person will become a “difference maker” in any number of fields;

How a gift to the curriculum hones the skills and shapes the conscience of those who will, in remarkably large numbers, go on to care for the sick, create law, shape public policy, influence foreign affairs, spur economic growth, foster innovation, create, teach, or build richer, more diverse communities;

How a gift to research generates knowledge that leads to more efficient government, sophisticated and humane health care, environmental sustainability, enlightened jurisprudence, inter-religious understanding or conflict resolution;

How a gift to capital improvements creates model environments for leadership development, character formation, citizenship, multi-cultural understanding, and artistic or athletic development.

They see the spirit in which Georgetown advances an agenda for the 21st Century, the sense of commitment and service that pervades its thinking, and the determination with which it seeks to leverage its prominence and place for the betterment of the human family. They know that Georgetown does not pride itself in nice or noble sentiments but in resourcefulness, action and innovation, in taking on the most rigorous challenges, confronting the grittiest issues, and in finding opportunity in the most unlikely places and situations. They understand that “the Georgetown way,” while rooted in long held values, is ultimately practical and profoundly relevant to the needs and hopes of the 21st Century.

In the next decade the University aspires to become the institution that best leverages its purpose, place, moment and unique strengths to make the most lasting contribution to the human family. It seeks to achieve this goal by:

1. Making Georgetown the destination of choice for the world’s most accomplished and altruistic young people;

2. Designing a complete, comprehensive campus life experience that ensures the most competitively selected students in Georgetown’s history develop their talents and deepen their conscience so that they can become “difference-makers” in whatever field they choose;

3. Attracting and maintaining faculty that nurture and guide the talent of the remarkable young people entrusted to their care by the far-reaching relevance of the knowledge they produce, and the passion and proficiency with which they share that knowledge in the classroom and beyond;

4. Creating a microcosm of a meritocratic world on our campuses, a world that places equal emphasis on the capacity of one’s intellect and the content of one’s character, a world that respects the dignity of each individual and demands adherence to the highest standards of ethical and intellectual conduct, a communicative, inter-connected world that allows difference-makers and problem solvers to interact and innovate, and a world whose form allows its members to function at the height of their abilities; and

5. Launching a series of initiatives from our positions of greatest strength to address the challenges that define our age, including those in globalism, conflict resolution, systems medicine, international development, global leadership development, environmental sustainability, transnational law, and (other examples).

So that it might better serve in these ways for these purposes, Georgetown University seeks to secure $1.5 billion for the following uses:


And that's it for now. The next part will get into the specifics of the financial case for support. I'm happy to share it with you as it develops

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The President As Fund Raiser

Whether we’re speaking of the president of a college, non-profit, medical center or research institute, it has become axiomatic to assert that he or she MUST be a fund raiser or, even more pointedly, that fund raising is their MOST important duty. There’s one problem with that: a president too focused on the act of raising funds may fail to understand or fulfill the duties that make an organization a viable contender for private funds in the first place. To ensure fund raising success, what presidents really must do is:

1. Explain in clear, compelling terms what distinguishes and differentiates their institution on a local, regional, national or global level;

2. Then articulate how those differentiating and distinguishing features can be amplified, with sufficient funding, to allow the institution to deliver more value to those it exists to serve;

3. Then lay out a series of projects that demonstrate exactly how, when and to whom that value will be delivered; and

4. Assure their supporters, and demonstrate how their institution is a “cause-oriented” culture with a deep commitment to service, accountability, gratitude and reasonableness and will make the most of the private support it receives.

Presidents who do those things well will do more for fund raising than the “glad handers” and “eager askers.” But let me make sure I haven’t made it sound too easy. Project design, emphasized in my third point, in particular, requires a great deal of skill, discipline and imagination. A project-specific plan makes for a more compelling case for support, which leads to more effective fund-raising, which allows an institution to make a greater impact, which sets the stage for continued growth and distinction. To make my point, let me give examples of how various schools might attempt to secure support for the same purpose: financial aid.

College A announces the contracting economy and loss of home values has caused many more students to have financial need. Their plan is to raise $50 million in the next five years to make up for this shortfall. Their fund raising materials feature inspiring stories of, and stirring testimonials from, students and alumni who have benefited from financial aid.

College B says the economic decline has made it particularly difficult for students from the lowest socio-economic quartile to attend. They set a goal of raising $60 million over the next five years to not only augment the financial aid packages of current students but to increase the enrollment of students from the most modest backgrounds from the 5 to 10 percent in that same period of time.

College C announces that it has conducted an extensive analysis to understand exactly how economic crisis has affected its application and enrollment patterns and discovered that it is receiving fewer acceptances to its offers of admissions from students whose families earn $60,000 or less, particularly those from major urban areas, including the city in which it is located. It makes the case that the “true test of any great school is to make it possible for those who come from the most modest means to earn an education that will put them on an equal footing with the most privileged students from the most prominent schools” and, by that measure, it is determined to be great. The President of College C announces that it has targeted and established partnerships with the five urban high schools in their service area that have produced the most college-bound graduates in the last decade. Further, she says, her college has worked with the principals of those urban schools to secure support from business leaders in the targeted cities “to identify, encourage, mentor and support” students who demonstrate a desire and a determination to improve their lives. Each business has pledged $100,000. The President now calls upon the alumni and supporters of College C to provide financial aid for the graduates of those urban schools so that the students who work hard and succeed will know that another opportunity awaits them. She says that if the College C is able to secure $75 million in support, including $60 million in scholarships and $15 million for academic and career advising, and other critical support services for these students, they will be able increase enrollment of targeted students by 100 percent in five years, and serve as a model for the state and nation.

So, you get my point. College A is properly responsive to change and the adverse effect it is having on their students, but its plan is reactive, not forward looking; it seeks to stem the tide of growing need and offers few project details. Its case says, in essence, “We have a need; please give us money.” College B is more specific in defining the target population for its financial drive and sets a goal of not only retaining students from the lowest socio-economic quartile but expanding its enrollment. It’s better than College A but it does not define the project in enough detail. Only College C puts forward a true project, one that defines the purpose of the institution, an analysis of the market it serves, how it might use its unique strengths to deliver value to achieve specific purposes by a certain date. College C had made an investment of time and energy in the project; it has developed partnership and secured business support before turning to its own supporters. What it asks is reasonable given the importance of the goal. It does not act entitled; it expects to serve in very concrete ways for the support it receives. It has differentiated itself, explained how addition funds will allow it to be better serve and put forward a very credible project to secure the necessary support.

I don’t know if the President of College C is the best fund raiser but she has clearly put her institution in a position to raise the most funds. And that's the kind of president for which the best fund raisers want to work.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Music to Donors' Ears

Here's my list of the top ten things donors most like to hear from those seeking their support.

1. "We would appreciate the opportunity to earn your support." This is a good way for a fund raiser to start the conversation. The tone is solicitous and the key word is "earn." Acting or sounding entitled to someones philanthropy is completely off-putting.

2. "We are committed to taking the necessary time to understand what is important to you and to securing your trust." Donors have been over-exposed to the worst practices in philanthropy. They assume every call from a fund-raising organization will be an abrupt solicitation, not matter what is promised. They've been ambushed too often. Setting the right tone early on gets the donor off the defensive and establishes a refreshing, responsible, professional tone.

3. "We want to bring you in during the early stages of this project." That means the donor is not just going to be asked to support someone else's grand idea. They will be treated as a stakeholder. This is particularly important to entrepreneurs.

4. "The person in charge of the project (that we would like to interest you in) is eager to meet with you." Donors understand the role of fund raisers but, ultimately, before making a significant commitment, want to meet the person who will see the project through to completion.

5. "Our institution is making a strong commitment to the project." If the project you're raising money for is so dang important, your institution needs to show that it somehow committing resources to it, that it, too, has some skin in the game. An institutional commitment reduces the risk of failure and ensures the donor's money will be used more carefully.

6. "We want to show you how we arrived at this budget." This suggests the philanthropy seeking organization is completely transparent and is willing to show exactly how much it needs to get the job done. The days of the nice round numbers, i.e., "It will take a million dollars to get this done," are over. The new language sounds more like, "After careful planning, we concluded that we can complete this project with a budget of $927,312 dollars." (Okay, maybe I'm getting a bit carried away).

7. "We have a project timetable with deadlines for each phase." That tells the donor your organization is determined to get the job done, that you're doers not just dreamers.

8. "We can not only tell you who will benefit from your support, but how and when." You've truly committed to those you serve.

9. "We'll craft a gift agreement to ensure that we keep our promises." That means the donor won't have to ask, "Whatever happened to my gift?" or to be surprised by how you use it. Good stewardship begins with a well-crafted gift agreement.

10. "Our gift agreement will include a stewardship plan." We will spell out how your gift will be announced, recognized and accounted for as the project progress and after it is complete.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tactics and Strategy

These two words -- “tactics” and “strategy” -- are among the most misused and misunderstood in the English language. An understanding of both, and their relationship to each, is of great importance to the running of all organizations and significant efforts, including any philanthropic enterprise.

I will not try to define them with abstractions. I will use the metaphor of a bridge. A good tactician is like one who knows how to design and build a bridge; a strategist is one who determines the optimal place to locate it. Both functions are essential but to build a bridge without giving thought to where it can be of greatest utility, now and in the future, limits its effectiveness. An exquisitely built bridge in a poorly chosen location is truly “a bridge to nowhere.” It would be unwise to even start designing a bridge until the best possible site was carefully thought through. That would entail not only thinking about the role of the bridge today, but the role it might play in shaping the future. For instance, a good strategist would ask, “How might this bridge link two major metropolitan areas and thereby promote commerce and economic development? How might it anticipate shifts in population that might allow a city to grow that reduce traffic congestion and improve the environment? How might it allow more people to have access to cultural or natural amenities?” Good strategists do not just think about reacting; they think about improving. They study trends and patterns and try to anticipate that which is coming. They try to get a jump on the future, to profit – economically, culturally, or spiritually – by better understanding what will be. They think about how current hopes and plans will have to adjust to changing realities.

Sound strategy determines the function; tactics are the form that follows function. To put it plainly, strategy always comes first. Philanthropy is ill-served by too great an emphasis on the tactics of fund-raising as a means to an end. Those tactics must always be subordinate to the strategies that imagine how an organization can make a greater difference in the lives of those it purports to serve.

And, yet, strategy without sound tactical execution consigns the potentially transformational project to the drawing board forever. To have vision or the most noble of intentions is not enough. Indeed, so many philanthropy-seeking organizations fall short of worthy aspirations because they think that’s all it takes. Do-gooders need doers. Visionaries need implementers.

Some strategists have the tendency to sniff at “mere tactics” while tacticians paw the ground at the mention of strategy and say, “Let’s just get on with it.” Leaders understand the importance of both, and work to convince each of the importance of the other. Great leaders know which one they are not and seek out their counterpart.

Philanthropy is about a bridge to a better world. It begins by defining where a difference most needs to be made. Actually making the difference requires sound engineering and dedicated steel workers