That is how I feel after celebrating the successful completion of Bryant University’s second comprehensive campaign in the institution’s 156-year history!
Although the frontline fundraisers, special events staff, and communications team are exhausted from the nine-year odyssey, the entire University is riding on an emotional high and is ready to begin thinking about the next campaign.
We reached our goal – twice! The goal was announced at $75M and later adjusted upward to $100M after we determined that there were more resources to be gathered and constituents to be engaged. As we know as fundraisers, the success of the Campaign should be measured in many ways beyond the $108M that has been secured to fund critical mission-centric programs.
University leaders on many levels now understand how to turn dreams into visions, then formulate a strategic plan to identify possible funding sources and actually implement the plan. Most importantly, Trustees and senior leadership understand how philanthropy can help accelerate and enhance strategic and tactical plans beyond tuition resources and bond financing.
Faculty and University administrators now know how they can participate. Partnerships in creating academic programs, scholarship initiatives, and important student services have been formed to enhance the educational experience of our students or decrease the financial burdens of instituting new concepts.
Alumni, Parents and new “friends” have become engaged, along with key corporate contacts and valued foundations. People have responded more generously than we ever imagined, and they have never been more excited about our institution or impressed by our outcomes!
Students are involved, impressed, and aware. In the age of digital communications, Giving Days, and storytelling through video, Bryant University now has many new student and young alumni philanthropy ambassadors who will continue to be invested partners for decades to come. Through proper stewardship, their engagement will continue to evolve, initiating a lifelong philanthropy journey.
As fundraisers, we know it is our job to inspire leaders to lead, creators to create and funders to fund. It takes incredible energy and immense patience, as well as the ability to see what others cannot, believe what others do not, and carry on when others have given up hope.
Campaigns allow institutions and individuals to take quantum leaps forward, forever changing the trajectory of individual lives and entire communities. They are thrilling adventures, starting at the bottom of a hill and culminating on mountaintops. They require strong staffs who can nimbly move forward at an aggressive and steady pace yet have the resiliency to absorb disappointment along the way.
Once the journey is complete, the celebratory toasts made, and the donors and volunteers acknowledged, I, as an experienced development leader, know the top of the mountain becomes the base for the next climb.
Even though the team needs rest and time to enjoy their accomplishments, I know that we will need to take advantage of the momentum that has been created.
The Board is already excited and asking about next steps, early investors are finalizing their Campaign pledges, and new challenges will need to be addressed.
Thankfully, there are now many more investors to help fund the next big adventure.
Dream ~ Envision ~ Inspire ~ Fund ~ Steward ~ Repeat!