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CASE Venture Capital Fund

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The CASE District II Venture Capital Fund supports professional development and networking opportunities at member institutions.

The CASE District II Venture Capital Fund supports professional development and networking opportunities at member institutions.


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  • A couple years ago, I attended a one-day stewardship conference at Grove City College in Pennsylvania – funded by a CASE District II Venture Capital Funds grant. It was an impressive day with excellent speakers, networking and information sharing. I have since been back to Grove City and keep in touch with many of the colleagues I met there. Immediately, I felt this was something we could do at Houghton College.
  • With any grant you are not just looking to meet your own institution’s need – but to pair the philanthropic interests of the grant provider with your initiatives. We set out to explore what the district might be looking for. We read everything CASE District II had to offer – from the history of capital funds to other winning grant applications. This helped us to determine how and what we would request.
  • In our grant application we outlined three important goals for our program – which the grant would help us to accomplish. We tried to mirror the criteria that the District spelled out.(read first goal) – Houghton had been in touch with about 5 or 6 other colleges in the region and had begun organization round table discussions. Attendees were major gift officers or staff who support major gift programs – who would come together for lunch to talk and share ideas about major gift programs. We had also been on site-visits to a few other colleges and maintained contact with their staff. So ,we were able to show excellent pre-established relationships that we could tap into for volunteers and attendees. We also expressed that the conference at Houghton had the potential to expand those relationships – which it did.(read 2nd goal) So there was an immediate issue or question that we sought to address through the particular speakers we chose. ie: in difficult times – how can we enhance our major gift programs. This was timely and would be of interest to potential attendees.(read 3rd goal) The nearest urban center to Houghton – and to many Southwestern New York or northwestern Pennsylvania communities – is a couple of hours away. So we not only pay for training costs – but we often pay for hotel and travel costs as well. We saw market for a local, affordable training. We ended up offering the training for $25. That coupled with the $500 CASE grant, covered all of our costs – which I’ll share later.
  • The process of seeking speakers began before we submitted the grant application. We needed a hook – a speaker who would draw a crowd and would enhance our grant application. Through a consulting contract, we had worked with Joshua Birkholz, Author of the book Fundraising Analytics and creator of the predictive modeling system called DonorCast. We contacted Josh and asked if he would be interested in speaking, if we were to win the grant. He said yes. Most folks like Josh appreciate opportunities to speak about their field – and to be in front of multiple institutions. As a similar example, at the Grove City College stewardship conference, the keynote speaker was the co-founder of the Association of Donor Relations Professionals. So we were able to put Josh in the grant application. We also included the other potential topics or session titles and we recruited those speakers from sister institutions from throughout the district. Everyone spoke for free. We did offer some reimbursements for travel but most did not take it.
  • To add more credibility to the conference – and more incentive for folks to come – we also applied to CFRE to offer continuing education credits for the program and they approved our application. This was a very simple process of downloading the application from their web site and submitting it, per the instructions provided.
  • At that point, we felt ready to the market the program. I contacted CASE District II and they were willing to work with us to send a blast email out to all of the district members. We only had to provide the text. We also worked to get an announcement in the APRA-UNY newsletter- which most of you know is the professional association for Advancement Services professionals. We attracted a number of fundraisers from local non-profits both through word of mouth and local press releases. Most folks registered online using their credit cards. All in all we ended up hitting the capacity for our room – which was 50 registrants. There were only a couple of no-shows. Our attendee from the furthest distance away came to western New York from West Virginia. We had VP’s to gift officers to advancement services folks and development directors.
  • We received great feedback at lunch and immediately following the conference, but felt it was important to determine if this was indeed a worthwhile program. We created a survey on surveymonkey.com and emailed it to everyone who attended. The vast majority of respondents rated the overall conference experience, quality of content, location, facilities, and fee as above average or outstanding. Some of the specific comments are shown on the screen. We included data from the survey on our follow-up report to the District and to each of the speakers. We also continue to plan our round-table discussions and encourage our colleagues to host a conference themselves.
  • My parting words are this: It takes a little bit of work but the rewards are worth itYou and your staff will attend a conference on your own campus – AND you are able to define the topicsYou get to hear from leaders in the fieldYou network with colleagues from across the districtYou receive exposure in your local communities and with your internal constituenciesYou have the opportunity to position your institution as a leader in professional development
  • Transcript

    • 1. Stretch your professional development dollar
      with help from the
      CASE II Venture Capital Fund
    • 2. Today’s speakers
      Rachel Coker is director of research advancement at Binghamton University.
      Nat Howe is a senior associate director in the Annual Giving office at Princeton University.
    • 3. What is the Venture Capital Fund?
    • 4. The Venture Capital Fund
      The CASE District II Board created the Venture Capital Fund in 2007 as a means to support fresh and innovative programming ideas. The VC Fund supports professional development and networking opportunities organized by advancement professionals at member institutions.
    • 5. The Venture Capital Fund
      A total of $30,000 is available for the 10-11 year.
      Applications are reviewed bi-annually by a committee made up of advancement professionals from the district.
      Grants of $500 to $2,500 are available.
    • 6. Why worry about professional development?
    • 7. Why professional development?
      Invest in yourself and in your colleagues.
      In tight economic times, this is a benefit that you can provide to your staff even if you can’t offer raises or promotions. Retain your best people!
      Good programs mean you and your colleagues will be doing better work.
      Professional development offers an opportunity to refresh yourself and think bigger thoughts. Recharge your batteries!
    • 8. Success stories
    • 9. Houghton College
      Last September, Houghton College hosted a professional development conference titled Resourced and Ready: Empowering Your Major Gift Team, funded in part through a $500 grant from the Venture Capital Fund.
      Pamela Witter, director of development at Houghton College, is here to tell us a bit more about the program and how the Venture Capital Fund made a difference.
    • 10. Pamela Witter, Director of Development
      Houghton College
    • 11. Pairing their interests with your needs
    • 12. Grant goals
      Grow our network of colleagues and ultimately enhance our annual round-table discussions.
      Provide much-needed training at a time when major gift fundraising faces the challenges of a new financial landscape and more informed and deliberate donor behaviors.
      Offer a specific and valuable training opportunity at minimal cost in a rural area where lengthy travel is often required for staff development.
    • 13. Recruiting speakers
    • 14. A legitimate learning opportunity
    • 15. Marketing
      • E-mail from CASE to all District II members
      • 16. Announcement in the APRA-UNY newsletter
      • 17. Local press releases
      • 18. Word of mouth and personal e-mails to:
      • 19. higher education colleagues
      • 20. non-profit contacts
    • Follow-up survey
      “Can’t beat the price”
      “Houghton was a great location”
      “I really felt the workshop was excellent”
      “If the conference were as top-notch and affordable as this one I would attend again at Houghton.”
    • 21. Final advice from Houghton
    • 22. Fall 2010
      Five proposals received funds in the latest round:
      Guam Community College received $2,500 to provide professional development training on establishing strategies and practices of philanthropy or fundraising for postsecondary institutions in the Micronesian region.
      The University of Toronto received $2,500 to support a one-day conference to allow professionals at 12 Ontario universities in CASE District II to discuss ways to engage alumni living outside Ontario and prospects for collaboration to enhance institutional visibility.
      Monroe Community College received $2,500 for a half-day Social Media Summit for communications and advancement professionals at half a dozen CASE District II institutions.
      Rowan University received $2,500 to support a half-day workshop for up to 40 alumni relations and development professionals from colleges and universities in New Jersey. The focus of the workshop will be student philanthropy, with a guest speaker presenting information about programs that instill a sense of philanthropy in students while they are still in school.
      McMaster University received $2,500 so it can host a Student Alumni Congress, which brings together Canadian colleges to discuss student-alumni programming, marketing and communications, volunteer management, student giving and more.
    • 23. Consider the possibilities
      Do you want to create a networking group of advancement professionals at other institutions, but lack funding to get it off the ground? 
      Have you and a few colleagues wanted to bring in a nationally recognized speaker for a cross-institution professional development program, but lacked the resources to make it happen?
      Have you wanted to hold a mini-conference on a topic that isn’t covered at the annual district conferences?
    • 24. How do I apply?
    • 25. Criteria
      Successful applications will most likely meet some of the following criteria:
      Impact on a number of CASE professionals
      Collaboration of CASE member institutions
      Programs do not replicate offerings at the district conference
      Institutions have not previously been awarded CASE II Venture Capital Fund grant
    • 26. Criteria
      The vc fund is:
      Available for members from all District II institutions, large and small, urban and rural, public and private.
      The Vc fund is not:
      A way to pay tuition for existing classes or participation in a program just one CASE member is attending.
    • 27. What does CASE expect from you?
      Grant winners are expected to file a report detailing the use of funds within 30 days of the money being spent.
    • 28. Application basics
      Brief online form available at www.casetwo.org
      Deadline to apply for the next round of funding: March 11
    • 29. Questions?

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