Learn how you can engage faculty as key storytellers to convey your school’s mission and value for fundraising.

Faculty can be valuable partners to the fundraising and advancement team in strengthening program interest and investment. Faculty are key storytellers when conveying a school’s mission and value, with veteran faculty often embodying the school’s unique culture and educational philosophy. Partnering with faculty for fundraising, however, can take a bit of finesse; fundraising is your job, after all, not theirs. But by understanding why, how, and when to engage faculty, fundraisers can benefit from their perspectives and produce compelling stories that impact institutional giving.

What type of donors would be interested in hearing from faculty?

Faculty stories may add depth to donor conversations and underpin the school’s unique value proposition. Prospective donors with particular interest in faculty stories may include:

Because each of these donor types have different motivations for understanding faculty perspectives, it is important to adapt your creative storytelling to your audience. Advancement may consider integrating faculty voices into the following communication channels and fundraising material:

What are considerations for selecting faculty?

Faculty can be valuable fundraising resources for educational institutions as advocates for the school, fountains of knowledge about programs, and connectors to students, alumni, and families —but they are also busy people. When considering asking faculty to give their support and time to fundraising efforts, it is important to know when and how to ask. Consider: when are the hectic times of the semester and academic year? What is their current course load? Are they also a department chair, athletics coach, activity leader, researcher, or faculty representative on a committee? A faculty member who is thinly spread might not have availability to help now, but may be available to help next semester. Do some initial research into their workload or schedule before making a formal request, and then try to be flexible in planning around when they are most likely to be able to help. Fundraising is not their job, so remember that your willingness to work with them will go a long way in a partnership.


How should I request faculty help?

When asking for a faculty member’s perspective, frame your request in a way that clearly illustrates two things:

  1. How their voice and expertise connect to the fundraising effort, and
  2. How a potential gift will impact their day-to-day work experience

For example, a science teacher who made do with an undersized lab, yet has a waiting list for her classes and a roster of alumni who have become scientists, has a compelling narrative, and the case for support should include her story. Her story will add authenticity and convey urgency and impact. Let faculty members know that their voices are valuable assets, and the goal of including their voice in fundraising is to enhance their programs.

When should I engage faculty?

It is important to know when it’s worthwhile to leverage faculty viewpoints and knowledge for fundraising purposes. Specific fundraising opportunities that can benefit from faculty stories may include:

How should I work with faculty to have their voices represented?

Working with faculty also requires connecting the fundraising goal and message to the faculty member’s area of expertise and personality. Consider: is the individual a good speaker and comfortable on screen, and would a video serve their program and message well? Or, would an interview that translates into written materials be more appropriate? Additionally, how much time can they lend to the effort—can they do an in-person interview, or is it easier for them to answer questions via email? A captivating performing arts department chair hoping to get a major theater renovation could be a great candidate for a video that includes on-screen speaking and clips of recent productions, as an example.

Remember to meet the faculty member where they are in their availability to assist, and tailor the fundraising materials and media to produce the best outcome for them, their program, and ultimately, the school.

How can I establish an ONGOING partnership with faculty?

At the core of an ongoing engagement with faculty for fundraising purposes is a mutually beneficial partnership. But how can advancement staff motivate faculty to participate?

Under the right circumstances, faculty can provide impactful firsthand perspectives that contribute to a stronger case for support with donors. Knowing the right situations for engaging faculty, and how to work with their expertise and schedules, will go a long way toward creating a powerful and lasting fundraising partnership.

More Insights

Event

Perspectives on Philanthropy | Giving USA 2024

June 25, 2024

Be among the first to learn the latest philanthropic trends that will be unveiled in Giving USA 2024: The Annual Report on Philanthropy!

Article

Custom GPTs for Fundraising: A Nonprofit Guide

May 31, 2024

Learn about Custom Generative Pre-Trained Transformers (GPTs), their application in fundraising, and how you can harness their capabilities to streamline your fundraising efforts and forge deeper connections with donors.