- Retiring Stanford University President John Hennessy says large donors are interested in funding ideas that help to create social change, and fit within campus capacity.
- Officials credit the fundraising success, in part, to an advancement staff with more than 500 employees, and a period of political uncertainty that gives colleges more latitude to make the case as social engineers with more capacity than government to solve problems — a proposition that is likely to stem growing public anxiety about the wealth of elite school endowments and how they are spent.
- Connections between development officers and institutional leadership is critical in aligning fundraising and academic goals that can attract top dollars.
Stanford has a unique value proposition in approaching donors, in that it has an established history of influence in global industries like technology, healthcare, defense and public policy. But executives at smaller institutions can make similar cases for their ability to solve city or regional issues with philanthropic support.
Presidents and chancellors can leverage programs of strength with the industrial imperatives of their states to make a strong case for private support. While elite institutions make broad cases for scalable impact, all colleges can focus their missions on improving one secondary school or its system, or reviving a struggling industry to create jobs, or improving the health of one neighborhood.