RAISE Podcast: Amy Noah, University of Oklahoma Foundation

On this episode of the RAISE podcast, Brent breaks it down with Amy Noah, who joined the University of Oklahoma Foundation as its new Vice President and Chief Advancement Officer on April 1st. Before joining the OU Foundation, Amy served her alma mater, Purdue University, for eighteen years, a tenure that is so rare in the advancement world.

Brent and Amy talk about the transition from working for Purdue, a place that she knew in-and-out and helped to mold for so many years, to OU, a completely new institution at which Amy has been speed-learning the names of her staff members as well as the football coaches (very important at OU!).

Amy explains to our RAISE audience how Purdue was able to define themselves as the gold standard for Giving Day (they hold the record for the largest single-day fundraising campaign in higher ed history); how she became a super-successful early fundraiser despite not meeting her dollar goals; and how she eventually led Purdue to successfully complete a $2.5billion campaign.

She also talks about the importance of truth in leadership, her opinions on the benefits of forming a separate 501(c)3 foundation to house university advancement, and how universities should offer personalized professional development opportunities for each staff member. Amy is a proven servant leader and a great podcast guest. Tune in! 



Here are some highlights from the episode…

Amy led the success of Purdue’s $2.5 capital campaign. It is our favorite capital campaign ever. You’ll understand why.

When Amy got her first fundraising position at Purdue, she was overwhelmed by all that she had to learn and was intimidated by the deep knowledge and success of senior fundraisers. Her advice for other early fundraisers? Don’t waste time comparing herself to others. Instead, put your head down, work hard, and your success will inevitably come. 

As a first-time fundraiser with an uncultivated portfolio, Amy knew that she wouldn’t be able to meet her dollar goals within her first year on the job. So, she decided to exceed her meeting goal by 100%. At her annual performance review, she was able to at least be able to point to a hugely productive year. All of those meetings in her first year were worth it, as she had a wide pool of relationships to deepen in later years. Grit pays off!

Amy has three pieces of advice for how to be successful as a fundraiser:

  1. Discovery, discovery, discovery. Identify the prospects that no one is paying attention to. Especially as a new fundraiser, you can start with a truly blank slate with these folks while cultivating your own voice as a fundraiser (very important).
  2. Take a lot of shots on goal. Make a lot of asks to a lot of people.
  3. Don’t hop around. Tenure matters, and it is a key ingredient in closing major gifts that typically take many years to cultivate.

One time, a donor showed up outside of Amy’s office and asked her to come outside. He pointed to a trailer of six show horses and said he was there to donate them to Purdue. Amy graciously redirected the donor and no livestock were harmed in the process.

Amy met a donor in Boston who was so furious about having his diploma withheld due to a parking ticket that he asked her to leave his office after angrily sharing his story. Despite the rejection, Amy had a feeling that she should meet with the donor again a year later. She did, and he eventually made a significant gift to the Student Emergency Fund to ensure no student would have to share his unfortunate experience. He is now a great supporter and friend of the institution. 

In 2019, Amy led the single largest single-day fundraising campaign in the history of higher education advancement, which raised a total of $41.6 million for Purdue.

As an advancement leader, Amy often fills the role of therapist, not just for donors in need of TLC, but for her team of fundraisers. As she points out, due to the nature of the job, fundraisers are compassionate, empathetic, deeply sensitive people. We think she should add “Therapist” to her LinkedIn title.

Amy, herself, is compassionate, empathic, and sensitive. But one aspect of her leadership style that she refuses to compromise is truthfulness. She believes that speaking truth is helpful to her as a leader, to her employees, and to the world. Even if it’s not comfortable, she speaks the truth.

About Amy…

Amy Noah has been appointed Vice President and Chief Advancement Officer for the University of Oklahoma Foundation, effective April 1, 2021. Prior to this assignment, Noah was the Vice President for Development at the Purdue Research Foundation serving as the Chief Fundraising Officer for Purdue University from 2013 to 2020.

As Vice President of Development, Noah led a staff of over 245 employees focused on annual, major gift and planned giving programs and alumni, corporate and foundation relations. Under Noah’s leadership, the University successfully raised over $2.5B as part of the seven-year Ever True campaign, including a record-breaking $517M in fiscal year 2019.

Noah launched Purdue Day of Giving in 2014, which accounted for $147M over six years. In 2019, Purdue Day of Giving was celebrated as the largest single-day fundraising campaign in higher education for raising a total of $41.6M. Noah began her Development career at Purdue University in 2001 after graduating with a BS from Purdue in 1994 and earning her MBA from Indiana Wesleyan University in 2000.

Noah is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. She previously served on the Board of Directors for the Lafayette Symphony Foundation, Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Engineering Development Forum. She has provided fundraising counsel for Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana, the Salvation Army Lafayette, University of Michigan-Flint, Ivy Tech Community College, the West Lafayette School Corporation and the Lafayette School Corporation.

Want to work with Amy? OU currently has 50 open positions and if you are a dedicated, positive go-getter, then you should consider joining the team. Connect with Amy on LinkedIn to chat more, or via email at anoah@ou.edu

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