In this episode, Andrew visits with Michelle Sutton, Director of Development at the Duke Catholic Center. They discuss a variety of strategies in fundraising within campus ministries. Talking about interacting and building relationships with their students, parents and community. And how to build a sustainable annual fund by creating long-term strategy.
Michelle is a graduate of Duke University with a political science major. She spent her college summers working in Washington, D.C. and realized that a career in politics is not what she wanted. While at college she was very involved in student ministry and two months before graduation, was offered the Director of Development job at Duke Catholic Center. The first thing she did once accepting the job was to attend the Petrus Development Conference in 2012.
Duke Catholic Center
When Michelle became Director of Development in 2012, the center had 5 staff members and was functioning at a $600,000 annual budget. Now, at the end of the last fiscal year, the center has 11 staff members and runs at a $1.25 million budget.
They have been able to double their size over the last 8 years by focusing on growth in their annual fund and growing their donor pipeline. Their pool of donors comes from alumni, parents, faculty and staff.
Parent Group Strategies
They focus over the summer and fall semesters to meet as many freshmen students and parents. By keeping a record of student involvement, they are able to cultivate relationships and reach out to parents for feedback and advice. People aren’t used to getting calls from campus ministry, so getting those calls can be encouraging and enlightening. Studies show that 80% of Catholics that will leave the Church, will do so between the ages of 18-24. Having their child's campus ministry reach out to them, shows parent’s that they care.
Fr. Mike Martin has been extremely valuable and supportive of the development program. It’s so important to have that support.
What Michelle has learned over the years is that you have to be okay with close to perfect. It’s necessary in order to move forward and take action. And through it all personal outreach is most important. Much more important that having things perfect.
Making the big ask, not the perfect ask, opens the eyes of donors to what’s possible. Michelle says that you may not benefit right in that moment from the big ask. You might be told no, but it opens the door to the possibility of what’s possible. The rising tide raises all ships. We need to be bold. Campus ministries are worthy of profound generosity.
Michelle spends time volunteering and serving outside of Duke. She knows they value of learning from others and allowing others to learn from you.
Find a couple of organizations you want to support and give to them. Notice what the experience is like and learn from it. Serve on boards and steering committees. Become involved in your community.
She has an 8-month-old baby boy, James. Being a new mom has shifted her priorities in the work load. Being super-efficient.
In the same way, focus on donors. You need to focus on long-term strategies. Build a sustainable annual fund with smaller donations and cultivate certain donors for special projects. You can’t rely on the big donor for the annual fund, for when they’re priorities change, you’re left in a deficit and in crisis.
Michelle has been a dancer, specifically ballet, since her childhood. In fact, ballet introduced her to her first stint in fundraising. She had to earn a portion of the funds needed for a ballet program and she ended up writing appeal letters to friends and family. It worked! She got to attend the program. And now, she enjoys ballroom dancing with her husband.
And here are Andrew's three takeaways:
Action item: Find 3 non-profits that are new to you and you are passionate about and give to them. It doesn’t have to be a lot of money but something more than $10 if possible. Then learn from your experience. From the initial interface to the response you get. And take that information back to your ministry and how can you utilize it. Try giving through their online portal, calling them or sending a check.
If you have questions, or want to share a success story, email me at email@example.com or send us a Facebook message. We’re always happy to help. God bless.
"In a conference, what I'm really looking for is the practical TOOLS on how to do your job well and the MOTIVATION to go out and be ready to get back to work. I've gotten both of those things from Petrus. I'm really excited to get back home and HUSTLE and really put my all into it."