Northwestern College is among the recipients of a 2014 Educational Fundraising Award, an honor given to superior fundraising programs at educational institutions around the country by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.
Northwestern is one of four private liberal arts institutions with endowments under $100 million recognized for overall improvement. The award is based on three years of fundraising data provided through the Voluntary Support of Education (VSE) survey, conducted annually by the Council for Aid to Education. This year 1,010 higher education institutions participated in the VSE survey; just 79 won an award for either overall fundraising performance or improvement.
“They’re seeing positive trends in our fundraising, which is encouraging to us,” says Jay Wielenga, Northwestern’s vice president for advancement, who describes the VSE as a best practice for measuring fundraising performance. In addition to improvements in giving to the Northwestern Fund, the college has had a good response from its constituents to fundraising appeals for first the DeWitt Learning Commons, built in 2013, and now a new indoor athletic practice and training facility, construction of which will begin once fundraising is complete.
The Educational Fundraising Awards evaluate institutions against their peers based on increases in total support; breadth and growth of program areas; growth in the number of donors; percentage and contributions of alumni donors; and impact of the 12 largest gifts on total support.
Wielenga attributes the advancement office’s success to the efforts of his staff, the college’s clarity of vision and mission, and excellent students who accomplish great things after they graduate.
“I think people feel strongly that Northwestern is worthy of their support,” he says. “People invest in places that are going the right direction. We’re also trying to be more intentional about meeting with donors so we can personally tell them what’s going on at Northwestern. Intentional asks; intentional gratitude. I think those two things are really important, and I think we’ve done that well.”