What I said on The Guardian’s live-chat on ‘The future of philanthropy in higher education’

by Stephen Tall on February 19, 2012

As I flagged here, my Friday lunchtime was occupied as one of the panel members on The Guardian’s #HElivechat on ‘The future of philanthropy in higher education’.

You can catch up on the discussion — all 137 comments — here.

It was fun and furious (the latter evidenced by my increasingly egregious typos), and hopefully of both interest and use to colleagues fundraising for universities.

One of the key issues discussed was the importance of university leaders committing to fundraising. Here are my thoughts on that topic from the chat:

[It is] absolutely critical that [university leaders] get it!

That doesn’t mean that they themselves have to be a brilliant fundraiser — though most of the Vice-Chancellors now realise it’s a core part of the job — but it does mean they need to invest in a development office, and (as importantly) invest in really close relationships with top prospects and donors.

At Oxford, we were lucky to have two successive VCs who, though very diffreent personalities, knew the success of the Campaign required them to commit. The current Oxford VC, Andy Hamilton, is rarely to be seen not sporting a lapel badge to show his support for the University’s campaign! …

The other crucial aspect of fundraising leadership of course is the quality and effectiveness of your volunteers – you might have a fab VC and a brilliant Campaign Chair and a great Development Director. But for a fundraising campaign really to fly all three must have good personal chemistry, complementing each others’ strengths and backfilling weaknesses.