Keep in Touch, Keep Asking: Fundraising in the Pandemic

EDITOR’S NOTE: Both in our scanning and in our conversations with clients, we often see themes emerging across the country. One common theme during the pandemic has been: How can we ask our donors for financial support when there is so much hardship out there? Should we change what we are asking for? Should we delay that campaign we’ve been planning?

While we don’t claim to be experts in fundraising, we track those who are. We asked our colleague and research associate Toni Shears to review the literature and share some of the most useful advice that experts across the country are offering. We hope you’ll find Toni’s compilation helpful.

Most professional fundraisers have worked through tough times and economic downturns, but it’s safe to say that none have seen a crisis quite like this. While organizations struggle to offset new costs and lost revenue, fundraisers are under pressure to sustain giving in what looks to be the worst economic downturn of our times.

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Round-up of Higher Education Financial Planning Related to COVID-19 (updated June 18, 2020)

The shut-downs, lost revenue and added costs of COVID-19 have created financial hardships for colleges and universities of all sizes and in every sector. Many institutions have announced cut-backs, while others are planning to do so in the weeks and months ahead. We began to scan for campus announcements and news coverage to see what action steps are being taken and how college leaders are talking about their financial planning. As we assembled these resources, we thought they might be of value to colleagues around the country who are wrestling with similar issues.

We do not claim this is a comprehensive list; please let us know if you’d like to add something or see information that needs to be updated or corrected. Continue reading

Guideposts for New Presidents in the Time of Pandemic

We work with a great many new and first-time college presidents. Even in good times, taking the helm of a complex, decentralized and highly political organization presents career-defining challenges for new leaders. But in the time of pandemic, these challenges multiply and accelerate, forcing an incoming president to battle unimaginable crises and weigh in on urgent decisions — before the freshly appointed can even set a foot on their campuses.

A recent headline in the Chronicle of Higher Education summed it up aptly: “Welcome to the College Presidency. Oh, the House is on Fire.”

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A New Partner at PRG

We are delighted to announce that Steve Kloehn, a senior leader in higher education and communications, has joined co-founders Julie Peterson and Lisa Rudgers as a partner in the Peterson Rudgers Group.

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Buckle Up for the Next Phase of Post-COVID Planning

The following essay by PRG partners Steve Kloehn, Julie Peterson and Lisa Rudgers appeared in Inside Higher Ed on April 21, 2020.

For colleges and universities across the country, the past few weeks represented an historic, breathtaking achievement. Faced with the choice to act or be acted upon, higher education institutions took the initiative and led the nation.

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In a matter of days, they transformed curricula that would normally take years or decades to reshape. In the face of deep uncertainty, wobbly governmental guidance, and no precedent whatsoever, they moved thousands and thousands of students out of harm’s way. They made bold choices, and they did so with intelligence, grace, and an unfathomable amount of hard work.

And now, even as we counsel our clients to find time for a breather, we know that can be only the briefest of respites. Because if colleges and universities are to recover from this pandemic, leaders must begin now to plan what those institutions will do and be when the crisis ebbs. Continue reading