Some factors associated with fundraising success are very adjustable.

Some factors associated with fundraising success are very adjustable.

Why do some colleges or universities have huge multi-billion dollar endowments, and why do some get huge multi-million dollar donations?

What can you do to bring more fundraising success into reach?

Listed below are the results of dissertation research conducted by the director of the Toccoa Falls College library, which provides invaluable data for you to strategically use in your planning committees and funding campaigns.

Key Factors positively correlated with Fundraising (FR) Success at U.S. Research Universities

Please keep in mind that the findings below are statistical correlations and not necessarily cause and effect relationships.

The policy and staff / trustee factors listed below are positively correlated with fundraising success.

Policies are generally easier to change than some other type factors listed as “characteristics” in the final list (see #2 below). Therefore, it may be prudent to consider which of the following areas you may want to allocate resources to and focus efforts on, while planning for more challenging results listed above.

Policy Factors that are positively correlated with fundraising success

  • Spend higher amount on institutional advancement
  • Have more accurate and complete FR recordkeeping
  • Have more comprehensive FR programs
  • Have a well-written “Case Statement”
  • Have a centralized Institutional Advancement Program
  • Conduct high quality, long-range planning
  • Produce high quality university publications and websites
  • Set reasonable yet challenging FR goals
  • Conduct regular evaluation of the FR program
  • Make prompt gift acknowledgement
  • Acquire high-quality donor research
  • Give awards, honors and donor recognitions
  • Use graduated “donor gift clubs”
  • Establishes an institutionally related foundation
  • Designate certain uses of donated funds
  • Join a professional FR association

Staff / Trustee Factors that are positively correlated with fundraising success

  • Hire a higher number of professional advancement staff
  • Appoint high quality Trustees
  • Have higher coordination of all administrative departments
  • Hire high quality chief development officer
  • Give greater authority to the chief development officer
  • Acquire high quality volunteers
  • Hire high quality university president
  • Have higher numbers of clerical FR staff
  • Conduct high quality FR staff training and continuing education
  • Conduct high quality donor cultivation
  • Use professional FR consultants
  • Establish high quality advancement staff management
  • Conduct higher number of personal visits to large donors

Universities who have the following characteristics (in relation to other universities) achieve more fundraising success. These factors are usually difficult to acquire or change, but knowing that they can significantly increase revenue might motivate administrators to focus their efforts in some of these areas.

  • A private charter vs. a public university
  • A large endowment
  • Higher Gourman Rankings in their degree programs.
  • More alumni
  • Higher annual costs for tuition, room, board, etc.
  • Higher per-student expenditures
  • Older (than other universities)
  • Greater prestige and reputation
  • Situated in the larger Metropolitan statistical areas
  • Higher annual faculty pay
  • Greater retention rates
  • Greater student degree completion rates
  • Higher applicant high school graduation ranks
  • Higher application rejection rates
  • Higher selectivity rankings
  • More library volumes
  • More dollars allocated to library budgets
  • Higher Association of Research Library (ARL) rankings
  • Higher percentage of faculty with doctorates
  • Receiving more Federal research grants
  • Higher Business, Law, and Medical School rankings
  • Higher percentage of graduate enrollments


  • Armand Ternak

    Mr. Armand Ternak is the director of the Seby Jones Library at Toccoa Falls College in Georgia. He holds an M.A. in Library Administration, an M.A. in Biblical Studies, and a B.A. in Secondary Education.

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