An alum from the UVA Darden School of Business put forth an $800K matching challenge to endow a scholarship in honor of a beloved faculty member. The timeline to meet the challenge was tight, and the usual “suspects” had been tapped.
Here’s how a Darden gift officer used EverTrue to mine new prospects and close two five-figure gifts for the challenge within minutes of their first meeting.
Darden’s faculty members are consistently ranked #1 by the Princeton Review. In conjunction with the Powered by Purpose capital campaign, the Darden launched Honoring Faculty Legends to give alumni the chance to pay tribute to a beloved Darden faculty member who changed their life by establishing an endowed scholarship in their honor.
This is the cross-section of “here are the funding priorities of the university” and “please tell us what or whom you’re passionate about.” It’s the sweet spot of fundraising. (We think every institution should consider launching an Honoring Faculty Legends scholarship campaign.) A number of alums stepped forward, including a Darden grad who put forth a matching challenge to establish a fully-endowed scholarship in honor of one of Darden’s faculty legends, Professor E. Richard Brownlee II.
The Challenge of Matching Challenges
A matching challenge is its own mini-campaign, and it requires compelling marketing, quick follow-up, frequent data pulling, and consistent communication of progress towards a goal.
Anyone who has worked to stir up awareness and support for an alum’s matching challenge knows that it is a resource-intensive process that relies on a strong project manager.
Matching challenges are the perfect opportunity to bring new or long-lapsed donors into the fold with the allure of doubled impact on a cause they care about. But with tight timelines and lots of cooks in the kitchen, getting the word out beyond the usual suspects is challenging.
Unless, like Darden gift officer Andrew Westhouse, you’re willing to think outside the box and go rogue (in a good way).
Here’s how prospecting for donors to meet a matching challenge looks in a typical advancement shop:
But, Darden’s Andrew Westhouse did not wait on a Development Coordinator to pull a complicated query from the alumni database to mine for new Brownlee matching challenge prospects.
Instead, using the keyword search function in EverTrue, Andrew searched for alums that had mentioned Professor Brownlee in past contact reports.
With one click, Andrew searched for the keyword “Brownlee” in past interactions. There were 91 mentions from historic contact reports.
Andrew viewed these prospects’ TrueView profiles which gave him a snapshot of career information, giving trends, wealth indicators, and other interests. He reached out to two alums.
Because he took an intrapreneurial approach to prospecting, Andrew was able to quickly identify two new major gift prospects (and close two 5-figure gifts).
Prospect A: Out-of-market, modest giving
One of the first new prospects Andrew dug up was located in rural Pennsylvania and had given modestly and sporadically to the Darden annual fund for over 40 years. Through his EverTrue keyword search of contact reports, Andrew found this excerpt from a December, 2000 contact report:
Andrew reached out to the alum. They had a quick conversation. The alum committed to a $35,000 gift to the Brownlee Scholarship, and the check arrived within a week.
If Andrew didn’t do this keyword search, this annual fund prospect wouldn’t have been given the opportunity to step up and honor this faculty member who changed his life.
With just a little bit of tech-enabled “going rogue,” everyone wins.
NB: Andrew just spoke with this prospect last week, and he plans to make an additional gift of the same size (if not more) to the Brownlee Scholarship next month. And, he’s considering adding the Brownlee Scholarship to his estate plans.
Prospect B: Disengaged, minimal giving
In EverTrue, Andrew also identified an alumna in South Bend, IN from the class of 1991 who had been disappointed with Darden following an unfortunate experience at her 25th reunion. She was not interested in re-engaging, but her historic interactions indicated a strong affinity for Professor Brownlee.
Andrew reached out to her, and she responded right away. Within seven minutes of their first conversation, she committed $50,000 to the Brownlee Scholarship challenge.
This is the beginning of a repaired relationship between this disillusioned alumna and UVA. Following a “warm conversation” with Andrew about Professor Brownlee, she is now open to reengaging with the University.
Through searching for keywords in contact reports, Andrew closed two five-figure gifts, helped to complete the matching challenge for the Brownlee Scholarship, and added two new major gift prospects to his pipeline.
Here’s how this process looks in a visual.
Through keyword searching contact reports, Andrew was able to identify a number of leads, including unassigned prospects that were outside of Andrew’s assigned region and had modest lifetime giving. He quickly closed two 5-figure gifts and helped to close out the Darden donor’s matching challenge. Darden alumni and friends have now raised over $1.7M to fully-endow the Professor E. Richard Brownlee II Scholarship.
The cherry on top of this story is that both of these donors will be invited to a Principal Donors Dinner during which they will reconnect with Professor Brownlee. Well done, Andrew!