UNC System sharpens fundraising focus

Todd Cohen

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — The University of North Carolina system is expanding its support for the fundraising operations at its 17 campuses, which in 2007 received private
contributions totaling $512 million, and will focus in particular on its 10 smaller and specialty campuses.

The system also is gearing up for the first time to raise money for its smaller campuses and for system-wide initiatives.

“These are great campuses with great fundraising bases, and we want to develop them,” says Cathy Hanby-Sikora, associate vice president for advancement for the UNC system.

Hanby-Sikora, a veteran fundraiser who held development jobs at Duke University and Indiana University and most recently was vice president for development for All Kinds of Minds in Chapel Hill, will spend one-third of her time consulting with the 10 smaller campuses on fundraising.

Since joining the UNC system in February, she has been visiting campus chancellors and vice chancellors for advancement to identify challenges and opportunities the campuses face, and the “fundraising supports that we could put in place centrally to make their shops more effective,” Hanby-Sikora says.

“The name of the game here is promoting state-of-the-art best practices on all of our campuses,” she says.

In the past, the UNC system’s General Administration has worked to help the smaller campuses develop the “infrastructure” they need to put development projects into place.

That assistance has included gathering data on the campuses’ fundraising; supporting systems for processing gifts; creating an “advancement council” of the campuses’ vice chancellors for development to focus on fundraising planning and best practices; and providing assistance on “planned giving,” or gifts that are complex, deferred or involve assets other than cash.

Hanby-Sikora is talking with the campuses, particularly the smaller schools, about providing “shared services,” possibly including standards to measure fundraising performance; prospect research; hiring assistance; system-wide coordination for managing donor prospects; development of donor-stewardship policies and fundraising polices on issues like accepting and counting gifts; and helping to organize and train fundraising staff.

Professional development “is crucial to our ability to keep the best fundraisers and make them successful,” Hanby-Sikora says.

She plans to work with the campuses on developing guidelines for hiring and retaining staff, and to enlist campus fundraising professionals to provide professional development for their peers.

“We’ve got remarkable expertise in fundraising across these 17 campuses,” she says. “We want to bring that expertise to bear in developing new fundraisers so we don’t lose them.”

Hanby-Sikora will spend two-thirds of her time raising money for the smaller campuses and for system-wide priorities identified through the UNC Tomorrow initiative.

A key goal for campus fundraising will be “to foster a relentless focus on the top prospects,” she says.

Based on fundraising goals and plans it will develop in collaboration with her office, she says, each of the smaller campuses will develop strategies for moving its top prospects towards making gifts.

“That’s where the money comes from, that’s where the relationships have to be built,” she says. “Part of what we’re trying to do is make sure we understand who are the top prospects for the smaller campuses, and how can we facilitate their ability to focus on those prospects.”

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