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Fundraising Guidelines

How to Turn Your Proposal into a Priority

Fundraising must be driven by the priorities of the University. The best way to ensure that your proposal becomes a fundraising priority is to connect its mission and impact directly to the goals and initiatives outlined in the University’s strategic plan – a plan that was carefully developed by stakeholders from across the University.

Getting Started

The best proposal is supportive of a thoroughly planned and well-defined program. You should begin by discussing your vision with colleagues and with your department head or program coordinator. As you proceed from preliminary discussions to a written proposal, you should do your homework: research similar models at other schools; determine why this project matters now and to whom; explore the viability of collaborating with other departments, divisions or units; identify other funding sources to consider apart from (or in addition to) private giving; and begin to develop language for a case statement, guiding principles, projected size and scope, positioning within the college or unit, relationship to the University mission, etc. If you plan to raise funds for a department or academic program, you should review its current structure and standing, its immediate needs and priorities, and its vision and goals for the future.

From the outset, it is important to note that by the time a donor decides on your proposal you will have devoted a great deal of time and energy to the development process. The process leading to the successful funding of a proposal typically involves extensive research, multiple proposal drafts, frequent communication with senior administrators and Advancement staff, and possible site visits.

How to Submit a Proposal

You will need to complete the Fundraising Priority Request form that requires a description of funding initiative, the need being met by the initiative and how it fulfills unit’s mission, the initiative’s consistency with Ferris’ mission and strategic priorities, prospective donors, etc. Proposals are accepted on a rolling basis. You are encouraged to consult with the University Advancement & Marketing Office to obtain advice and expertise on creating your proposal.

How to Work with University Advancement & Marketing

Once a proposal is endorsed as University priority, the University Advancement & Marketing Office will work with administrators, faculty, staff and volunteers to design, coordinate and implement effective fundraising strategies. The University Advancement & Marketing Office is prepared to assist you in the following ways:

  1. Prospect Identification and Qualification – One of the primary responsibilities of University Advancement & Marketing is to continually work to identify new prospective donors and to visit with them to determine if they have the ability and affinity to get involved through private giving (a.k.a. qualification). We identify prospective donors via Ferris alumni records, professional research, wealth indicators and a network of personal and professional contacts in order to gather adequate and accurate background information on donors (e.g., life history, work history, giving history, University involvement, etc.). Qualification comes through one-on-one communications, typically and ideally in the form of a personal visit. If you know of any prospective donors who might be interested in your proposal, we encourage you to share their names and interests with us.
  2. Cultivation – Cultivation is the process of developing a relationship with a prospective donor, allowing us to know enough about the donor to determine the best area (or areas) to direct his/her gifts. During this process, which often involves many visits and people (Advancement staff, senior administrators, deans, faculty, etc.), University Advancement & Marketing is responsible for coordinating communication with donors to prevent them from being called upon too frequently or, worse yet, simultaneously. If, through this process, the prospective donor is determined to have a possible interest in a particular project or program, University Advancement & Marketing will arrange opportunities for the appropriate faculty or staff to meet with him/her personally. The role of the faculty or staff member is to represent the specific vision of the program, while the Advancement officer will provide the guidance and strategy for follow-up and possible proposal submission.
  3. Proposal Development – University Advancement & Marketing drives the process for proposal development and submission to the donor. Nonetheless, University Advancement and Marketing often depends on administrators, faculty staff and volunteers to provide the substance of the proposal (i.e., history, specific plans, budget, etc.). Through a collaborative process, University Advancement & Marketing will determine the appropriate tone and content, presentation strategies, supporting materials and donor requirements. The goal is to design a message that clearly defines how the donor’s interests match up to the college’s priorities, allowing for a unique opportunity to enrich the lives and legacies of the individual and institution.
  4. Solicitation – Often the solicitation occurs with the appropriate administrator, faculty or staff member or volunteer in the room, accompanied by the Advancement officer. This may also involve the dean, provost or president, depending on the size and scope of the solicitation. We do not expect faculty, staff or volunteers to make specific requests from donors. University Advancement & Marketing staff will work with all participants to ensure a clear understanding of expected roles and responsibilities during the visit.
  5. Stewardship – A long-term relationship with any donor, at any level of giving, depends upon professional and personalized communication about the value of their gift and upon making sure they know how the funds are being used and how much they are appreciated. We will work with faculty and staff to continue communication with donors after each phase of the development process – before and after the gift.