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Building and Sustaining Philanthropic Success

Vice Chancellor Lisa Calvert hits the ground running with a philanthropic impact study for the TTU System.

March 19, 2015 | Written by Doug Hensley

Lisa CalvertLisa Calvert began has vice chancellor for institutional advancement on Feb. 23, 2015.

Lisa Calvert, the new vice chancellor of institutional advancement, is working with the entire Institutional Advancement team to plan and execute long-term fundraising strategies for the Texas Tech University System and its four component institutions.

“First, it’s important to acknowledge the incredible success of the Vision & Tradition campaign,” she said. “With only 84 university systems completing $1 billion and higher campaigns from among more than 4,000 private and public university systems, Texas Tech grabbed my attention during the recruiting process.”

Now comes the next step. Following meetings with Chancellor Robert L. Duncan and other senior leadership across the TTU System and the Institutional Advancement team, Calvert plans to implement a philanthropic impact study.

As Calvert explained, the study will provide new insights and pathways to expanding the TTU System’s philanthropic pipeline.

For example, at Purdue, where Calvert previously led development efforts, the study helped that institution move from a three-year average of $205 million to $300 million in less than three years, she said.

The philanthropic impact study will produce three primary outcomes, Calvert said. First, it will determine how the system can best capitalize upon existing philanthropic momentum.

“It is very challenging to sustain annual dollars raised based on a successful campaign,” she said. “As campaign pledges are paid in full, the annual dollars raised typically decrease. Our goal is to build a sustainable and growing pipeline of philanthropy.”

Second, the study will align the TTU System and university leadership with an emerging Institutional Advancement vision and move everyone in the same strategic direction.

Third, the study will focus Institutional Advancement staff and create positive buzz across the system.

“The study provides for frequent interaction with Institutional Advancement colleagues, increased transparency and the opportunity to build relationships based on trust,” she said.

The art is all about the existing donor relationships that have been built over time by many, many TTU System volunteers and staff.

Vice Chancellor Lisa Calvert, Texas Tech University System

Over the course of the next few months, Calvert will meet with more than 150 members of the Institutional Advancement team in groups of four to five individuals, focusing on three important questions:

  1. What is going well in specific areas of responsibility,
  2. Where can improvements be made, and
  3. What is the one thing the new Institutional Advancement leader needs to know?

The process is already under way, and similar meetings are being scheduled with leadership at each component university, the Texas Tech FoundationAngelo State FoundationBoard of Regents members and university deans from across the system.

Calvert said these dialogues will bring into focus three fundamentals required for philanthropic endeavors to succeed at a high level: bold, fundable ideas; philanthropic capacity and infrastructure.

“Each of these has to be considered and analyzed for today’s large and complex business of philanthropy,” she said. “While the fundamentals are basic, development and execution of these strategies is complex and requires specific measurable outcomes.”

Calvert said to secure seven-, eight- and nine-figure gifts requires prospective donors to connect to a dynamic vision and bold, fundable ideas.

“These gifts typically span universities, colleges and schools,” she said. “With the arrival of Chancellor Duncan and a growing dependency on philanthropy, we have the opportunity to build these bold, fundable ideas.”

Philanthropic capacity provides realistic visibility into how much TTU System alumni and friends could invest in philanthropic support.

“It is crucial to assess and validate the philanthropic capacity of the alumni base through analysis as well as align resources with potential,” she said.

“The forecast of philanthropic capacity will change the productivity of Institutional Advancement,” Calvert said. “There are implications for the structure of the advancement operation and its size, including frontline fundraisers and functional support to build a scalable and sustainable development model.”

Calvert acknowledges fundraising is equal parts science and art and said it’s important to make sure the TTU System never underestimates the power of relationships.

“The art is all about the existing donor relationships that have been built over time by many, many TTU System volunteers and staff,” she said. “These relationships are crucial to enlarge and sustain the philanthropic flow of gifts.”

About the Texas Tech University System 
The Texas Tech University System is one of the top public university systems in the nation, consisting of four component institutions—Texas Tech UniversityTexas Tech University Health Sciences CenterAngelo State University and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso—and operating at 12 academic sites and centers.  Headquartered in Lubbock, Texas, the Texas Tech University System has an annual operating budget of $1.7 billion and approximately 17,000 employees focused on advancing higher education, health care, research and outreach. 

In 2014, the Texas Tech University System’s endowment exceeded $1 billion, total research expenditures were approximately $200 million and total enrollment approached 47,000 students. Whether it’s contributing billions of dollars annually in economic impact or being the only system in Texas to house an academic institution, law school, and health institution at the same location, the Texas Tech University System continues to prove that anything is possible.