From June 27-28, The Fund Raising School at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy will host the Leadership Roundtable. The first day will feature the latest research on trends in donor behavior, while the second day will be led by two leaders in fundraising, who will discuss their experiences and leadership of two highly successful fundraising campaigns for national organizations.
The first presentation will feature Virginia Clark, the Emeritus Assistant Secretary for Advancement at the Smithsonian Institution. Clark led the Smithsonian’s highly successful capital campaign that raised $1.88 billion from more than 535,000 donors, surpassing its goal of $1.5 billion over a year ahead of schedule. The campaign was the largest campaign ever by a cultural organization.
A highly successful fundraiser and leader in higher education and cultural organizations, Clark did not begin her career in fundraising.
“I thought my career would be in teaching, but because of relocation, I left teaching and found a job in publishing, editing a business industry magazine,” she said. “From there I returned to education, working at the University of Pennsylvania in communications. This led to working at the Wharton School in corporate relations and a 25-year career at Penn spanning marketing, communications, public relations, and fundraising, culminating as Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations.
When Clark was recruited to head the Smithsonian advancement program in 2002, she recognized the similarities in the development work between the two institutions. While The University of Pennsylvania has 12 schools, about 20,000 students and at the time 250,000 alumni, the Smithsonian has 19 museums, six research centers and a zoo, and 28 million visitors each year. Both institutions are committed to world class research and lifelong learning, and in development, address issues such as what to centralize and decentralize, allocation of potential donors, etc.
“There were enough interesting parallels and differences that made the job at the Smithsonian an interesting challenge,” Clark said.
After accepting the position, Clark spent her first years focusing on building a culture of philanthropy and professional development operations in anticipation of a campaign. Identifying potential donors for the varied Smithsonian needs was not as difficult a challenge.
“In fact, everyone recognized that it presented a great opportunity to broaden the community and build our brand further. With the span of work from aviation to Asian art from ocean and species conservation to art and cultural conservation, the Smithsonian was there,” Clark explained.
Identifying individuals with passion in the mission is also a part of Julie Teer’s current role as the Chief Development and Public Affairs Officer at the Boys & Girls Club of America (BGCA).
Teer is quite familiar with building relationships and raising funds. She began her career working on Capitol Hill in communications and marketing, and then managed and fundraised for congressional and presidential primary campaigns. Her team raised more money for Senator (then-Governor) Mitt Romney’s campaign than any other primary presidential campaign in 2008.
After that run, Teer realized that she wanted to make positive change happen more quickly.
“Conversations with other individuals helped me understand that the nonprofit sector was the sector where some of the biggest social challenges facing society and communities were being addressed,” she said.
Teer then began a position as the Director of Development for Susan G. Komen, and created and led a highly successful development program there.
After four years, she came to BGCA because of its mission to help make great futures a reality for America’s youth.
“Within this country, we can clearly grasp our future by how our kids see and experience success,” Teer said. “What originally inspired me to get into politics inspires me today in my daily role leading our development and government and advocacy efforts.”
Upon joining BGCA, Teer and her team led the six-year strategic initiative, Great Futures: the Campaign for America’s Kids. The campaign raised $600 million, surpassing the campaign’s $450 million goal five months ahead of its initial six-year timeframe and establishing a successful integrated marketing campaign to grow revenue and increase impact.
To do so, BGCA has transformed its approach to philanthropy.
“We wanted to help build stronger resource development capacity at all levels with our clubs. In the past, we had predominantly been funded by corporations and government and foundation grants, and we saw the opportunity to build sustainable individual giving and engagement programs in nearly every community we operate in,” Teer explained.
Clark and Teer will discuss these lessons, as well as many others, at the Leadership Roundtable in June.
Both look forward to learning more from the participants there, while also sharing diverse, powerful lessons on fundraising. For Clark, her lessons will focus on building a campaign on a strategic plan.
“How do you build national awareness? How do you balance meeting short-term needs versus long-term solutions? How do you handle what should be centralized versus decentralized?
“Being a fundraiser requires you to have both an analytical mind to understand the power and importance of data, while also having insight into various personalities and the ability to articulate the mission,” Clark said. “It’s essential to understand the power of communications, branding, and marketing.
“You can be fortunate though to see what success in the U.S. and across the world means, and how that comes in all different sizes and colors and shapes.”
Teer points out the importance of board engagement in that process: “It’s not just critical, but absolutely essential for success. You need to have your board inspired and engaged in philanthropy.
“You also have to earn the trust and understanding of your donors, while having the patience to implement the right strategy and right plan.
“Patience pays off in the long run.”
There’s still time to learn more from Clark and Teer and register for the Leadership Roundtable! Look over the agenda, which will feature the most up-to-date research and the practical lessons that fundraisers can learn while there.