Maureen Flores, VP for University Advancement at Bentley University, is a native New Yorker and first-gen college grad who got her undergraduate degree and her start in fundraising at Fordham University. Maureen believes that a leader should be able to seek, absorb, and synthesize a lot of information; make quick but informed decisions; and then guide a team to pivot accordingly. She has put this approach into action over the past year, and the results are paying off in a big way for her team.
On this episode of the podcast, Maureen and Brent discuss the shift of focus away from the small, steady donors over the past year and the effect that has had on donor pipeline. They talk about how a career in philanthropy can enable you to make an impact whether you live in a tiny town in rural Montana or a bustling northeast city. And they explore the lessons advancement can learn from for-profit companies like Proctor & Gamble and Wayfair about personalization, the customer journey, and building loyalty among a constituent base. Maureen has fundraising experience at a Jesuit institution, at Harvard, at a large regional public, in health care, and in the K-12 space, so she is a wise “convener” (apt descriptor for fundraisers!) with a lot to share.
Some lessons learned from this episode…
Advancement folks can learn a lot from our friends who work in wealth management. Maureen’s daughter works on Wall Street and they both share tips and tricks about relationship management, how the finance world is approaching hybrid/remote work, and the future of cultivating trust and affinity with HNW individuals.
Universities should be the go-to synthesizers of news and information for their alums. Alums looked to Bentley during COVID to keep track of the latest pandemic updates on campus, to learn how companies like JP Morgan and Credit Suisse were approaching furloughs and layoffs, and to follow Moderna’s daily response to a global crisis.
When you hit the road again, go to see your existing known supporters. You know, the ones for whom hand-delivering a proposal over lunch would be the game-changer. And for the new C-suite execs and just-discovered prospects on your radar, a 30-minute Zoom is likely much more impactful and appropriate than a 90-minute lunch that costs the University a lot of $$$ in time and travel expenses. Stay flexible as we “return to work” this fall.
Seek out mentors. Maureen met Father O’Hare, the late-president of Fordham, at a conference. They connected because his nephew was one of Maureen’s classmates at Fordham, and then he took her under his wing and taught her fundraising from a CEO/President’s perspective. He also showed her the deep joy of advancement work.
If you don’t align with the mission of the institution, don’t work there. If you are going to ask donors to invest in the institution, it’s imperative that you are invested in the institution, too.
Mega donors aren’t the solution for all. Transformational gifts have increasingly been the focus of the sector for the past 10 years, but the small and steady donors really do have an impact.
Millennials are the the next generation of donors, and they believe in the power of the collective. The cost per dollar raised is high for this group, but they are your future transformational donors and you must invest in cultivating them now.
Fundraising is all about “work, work, work, serendipity.”
Maureen was named Vice President for University Advancement in 2017. In this role, she oversees all fundraising programs, alumni engagement and advancement communications, with an emphasis on developing programs and initiatives that align with the university’s strategic mission and goals. Prior to serving in this capacity, Maureen was Bentley’s associate vice president for development, with responsibility for fundraising initiatives ranging from annual giving and leadership gifts to corporate and foundation relations. Before joining Bentley, she held several senior leadership positions in higher education advancement, including at Fordham University, Harvard University and the University of Cincinnati. Maureen holds a bachelor’s degree in English from the Honors Program at Fordham University.