Volume IV: What works, what matters, what lasts

Fundraising Activities

Development officers are the main people in charge of the fund-raising campaign. It is important that they come up with a clear plan, case statement, and strategy for following through with it. The plan should include potential donors, the time line for development of campaign materials and the solicitation, and the likely amounts that can be expected from major donors and categories of donors. The case statement is a very important document where you articulate your vision of how the new science facilities will improve science, teaching, and research and how this vision fits within the institution's long-range goals. The case statement is the document which is created to capture the attention and interest of prospective donors. Strategies are also an important part of the fund-raising activity. Strategies should include such things as models and drawings.

Fund Raising for New/Renovated Science Facilities: The Case Statement

The creation of a convincing Case Statement is vital to the presentation of your needs to use with prospective donors, particularly foundations, at the point when the institution is ready to seek external funding for new or renovated science facilities.

The Case Statement pulls together information into a coherent whole from the design committee and other faculty, department chairs, deans, architects and administrators. It articulates a vision of how new science facilities will improve science teaching and research within the institution's long-range goals and mission. It is valuable for developing internal institutional commitment to the enterprise as well as explaining plans, goals and needs to potential donors. While each institution's Case Statement will be a unique document, each will address the following:

  1. Donors want to know how the new facility will serve science departments and improve teaching, research and learning. You can bring site plans to life by describing how laboratory design and building configuration will enhance learning and student/faculty interaction, and at the same time attract students to science. Emphasize plans for particularly distinctive curriculum changes and how these will impact the physical layout of the building.
  2. Because donors to science facilities want to be assured of the importance of science within the liberal arts curriculum of the institution, you need to include evidence of institutional support for strong, and expensive, science departments and facilities. The sciences are then positioned as part of a coherent, thoughtful, balanced undergraduate curriculum, and the donor's gift supports a science facility as well as institutional goals.
  3. What will it cost? Donors need to know the full project cost, and the impact of their gift or grant. Often, donors are keenly interested in the institution's plan for raising the millions in addition to their own grant needed to build or renovate science facilities, and appreciate being informed of gifts and grants already received. They may also want the option of naming laboratories or buildings. A policy which outlines the size of gift required to name specific spaces should be in place from the beginning of fund raising for the facility.
  4. The Case Statement should include evidence of the strengths of the science departments served by the new facility. Donors like to reward excellence and are interested in faculty research, awards and honors, in alumni who have gone on to distinguished careers in science and medicine, and in student/faculty research projects and published papers. Short profiles of one or two individual faculty, students and alumni enliven proposals and are effective in illustrating particularly outstanding teachers and courses.
  5. Emphasize the positive. Focus the statement on improvements and the future, away from a litany of the deficits of existing facilities. Without much urging, donors will assume you are raising millions for a new facility because you have an exciting plan which will house and exciting program. This is what they are interested in supporting.
  6. If possible, position new or renovated science facilities within long-range plans for total campus renewal, and within long-range plans for overall support for science education. For instance, you can pull together plans for science endowments for professorships, research, equipment and/or maintenance with facilities costs and demonstrate administrative and fiscal responsibility for future needs. Donors care about their investment in the institution, and want their grants to contribute to future institutional health.