Contact Us

A Campaign Story, Part 1 - An Interview with Sarah Du Preez

In this episode, Andrew visits with Sarah Du Preez, Director of Development for the St. Thomas Aquinas University Parish at University of Arkansas. Sarah started in her role last summer, which happened to be the same week that the ministry kicked off a feasibility study for a $12.5 million dollar capital campaign. They discuss Sarah's experience in development and her track record of success working on big projects, as well as being nervous and a bit apprehensive about her new role because of the enormity of the project they are in the midst of.

Today, they are sitting down together at the official launch of the campaign and next year, they will sit down again for a part 2 conversation about what she has learned through the process. And we are pleased to be here for the journey!

Show Notes:

Sarah Du Preez, Director of Development for the St. Thomas Aquinas University Parish at University of Arkansas. 

This is part 1 of A Campaign Story



Grew up in Fayetteville, Arkansas and went to college at University of Arkansas and was really involved in St. Thomas Aquinas. When she began at college, she realized that she needed to find a new friend group/community. At that point she found St. Thomas where she felt at home. 

She went to work for a non-profit after school and stayed there for three years. Then she went to work for a library that was going into a $23 million campaign. It was an opportunity. 

She was approached to work for St. Thomas three years after working at the library. It turns out that it was her dream job and she didn't have any doubts. And started July 1, 2020.


St. Thomas Aquinas

What was the draw that caused you to changed jobs in the middle of a pandemic? 

It felt like her home, and she felt true passion to raise money for them. 

When she showed up, the feasibility study had just started and she had to jump in running. Thankfully, she has some warning and she had experience with feasibility studies with her prior work. 116 interviews under two months! The study was overwhelmingly positive. 


Campaign Goals

Every mass is completely full, to the point where people had to be turned away because there wasn't space. The student center is not functional, space-wise. There's no study room, there isn't social space, it's not set up for what their students need. 

Double size of the church to fit 600. Newman center will double in size. Adding a kitchen, kitchenette, study rooms, hangout spaces that is open and bright. 

A mom called, and wanted to give time/labor to make the space prettier because her son doesn't want to be there because it's not comfortable. 

10% of students on campus are Catholic and not having the facilities is a missed opportunity. 

$12.5 Million Goal, which will mean a complete renovation and additions.


Campaign Strategies - Part 1

It's impossible to tell the future. But Sarah feels really good about it. She doesn't think the initial $6K will be hard to raise. But needs to build the network. The database has not been loved, nurtured or taken care of.  Get out and meet the alumni and parents. Find friends, get connected and build network. 

This will need to be a statewide, national endeavor. 



Sheer amount of work that needs to be done just to get going.  An example was hiring an architect, which involved hours and hours of work that wasn't Sarah out making calls and connecting. 


Dream Job

How much will you need to rely on your passion and the fact that this is your dream job to keep you moving forward? A lot. 

It's a faith thing. It's a passion. 

In order to run a successful campaign, you need a strong sense of organization and the ability to be bold in your efforts and passion.


Lightening Round

  1. If you could fund-raise for any organization or cause at any time in history, what would it be?
    • Unbound, The Little Sisters of the Poor
  2. If you could get a donor meeting with anyone living or dead, who would it be?
    • St. Katharine Drexel
  3. Is there enough money out there for every organization that's doing good work?
    • Yes, organizations need to be combining efforts and being more efficient
  4. What is one piece of advice that you would give your past self?
    • You can't do everything, don't bleed yourself dry
    • Telling yourself to be confident
  5. Who are 3 people who have most influenced you, professionally?
    • Directors at Walton Art Center, her parents, her husband
  6. What is one fact about Sarah that most people don’t know?
    • Wants to open a dog nursing home!

If you would like to connect with Sarah, you can reach out to her at:


Andrew's Take-Aways:

  • Work for a place that you are passionate about. We have said this a number of times on the podcast, but it cannot be overstated how incredible it feels to raise money for an organization that you have a personal connection to and a passion to see it grow. It is clear how much Sarah cares about St. Thomas and I have no doubt that will serve her well as this project continues. 


  • Sarah talked a few times about the support that volunteers have given her and Fr. Jason for this project and for the ministry in general. Sometimes, having engaged volunteers is the difference between moving forward and growth and being stuck and unable make a difference. I have met the deacons at St. Thomas and I can tell you that Norm and Paul are incredibly dedicated to the ministry and the students and their deep and abiding faith powers their willingness to go the extra mile in service to God. It's a good idea for you to look to your most dedicated volunteers when you need some help moving forward. 


  • Sarah has had the benefit of working at two other non-religious charities before coming to St. Thomas and she is totally right that people place their church and their faith on a different level when it comes to their charitable giving priorities. If you are in a faith-based ministry or a church and might be nervous about people continuing to support, be confident in that fact and don’t be afraid to keep asking. 

If you are in a position where you have a big project coming up and need help putting a plan in place or just want to talk through your situation, send us an email at [email protected]. We’d love to hear from you. God bless and keep moving forward.


Sign up below to receive tools, ideas, and inspiration to take your development efforts to the next level.

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.