The Art and Science of Persuasion
Faculty, fundraising, and Emory's comprehensive campaign


Vol. 8 No. 4
February/March 2006

Return to Contents


The Art and Science of Persuasion
Faculty, fundraising, and Emory's comprehensive campaign

The Development and University Relations Faculty Advisory Council

The Emory College Faculty Committee on Fundraising

"Faculty should know that this train is moving, and if there are suggestions or claims to be made or priorities to be established, this is the time to do it."

"Fundraising is an enormously long process, with hours devoted to stewardship."


Dangerous Ideas
The responsibilities of courageous inquiry


Emory's Living Room
The case for a university faculty club


A Day in the Life
Juggling family and academic science


Endnotes

 

 

When Ken Stein attends a former student’s wedding, there is no thought of donor cultivation, he says. He is enjoying a special moment in the life of a friend.

But the fact is, those friendships have engendered support for his scholarly activities. Since its inception in 1998, his Institute
for the Study of Modern Israel has been fully funded by sources outside the university.

“I have wonderful relationships with former students and their families, many lasting a quarter century or more,” says Stein, William E. Schatten Professor of Contemporary Middle Eastern History, Political Science, and Israeli Studies. “Without asking, they say, ‘We want to give something back.’ I do not sit across the table after lunch and make a pitch for money. They volunteer it.”

Amid the growing buzz around Emory’s seven-year comprehensive fundraising campaign, the “quiet phase” of which kicked off September 1, is the recurring theme of “faculty involvement.” And it raises plenty of questions. While grantsmanship is second nature to many faculty, the thought of trying Stein’s style of bringing in individual donor dollars makes more than a few squirm.

But Emory fundraisers are counting on faculty to help turn around a tough trend. While individual donors are by far the largest source of all U.S. philanthropy, foundations currently hold the top spot at Emory. A key ambition for the campaign (the dollar goal for which has not yet been announced) is to broaden the base of individual supporters. Last semester, officers from Development and University Relations (DUR) made the rounds to each school, the University Senate, and the Faculty Council to talk about the faculty role in this effort. A new DUR Faculty Advisory Council, made up of twenty-three faculty representatives, was created to foster connections between the campaign’s leadership and the professoriate. Emory College has similarly created a Faculty Committee on Fundraising to help establish fundraising policies and priorities and liaison with donors and DUR.

As Provost Earl Lewis quipped recently to the Faculty Council, “A comprehensive campaign requires the participation of all of us. Some of you may cringe at the thought.”

Making the case

“I don’t see [asking for money] as part of my role,” says Professor of Epidemiology John McGowan, a member of the DUR faculty
advisory committee. “I think establishing relationships with people who are interested in things we do is important. Talking about what excites you in your academic career wouldn’t be hard for most faculty.”

And that is exactly what Alicia Franck, senior associate vice president for principal gifts, says she hopes faculty will do. “This advisory group was created to identify the ways that Emory is engaged in the community—because we are—and how in their opinion we can change the perception that Emory isn’t involved in the community. We want the advisory council to assist us in translating for a broad audience how teaching and research are about serving the public good. How can we translate what teaching and research mean outside the academy?”

Franck says the group is being asked to look for ways of promoting the university with the new strategic plan: “We don’t want to spend the next seven years talking about money. We want to talk about purpose and impact.”

To that end, new avenues for faculty outreach are opening up. The nursing school recently hired a communications officer, says Dean Marla Salmon, so that “faculty have more opportunities to talk about what they’re doing. It’s an indirect way faculty can be involved in fundraising. We want to build donor awareness with a strategic increase in media hits featuring our faculty.”

In the law school, more faculty are meeting with alumni when they travel. “We will run a list of alums in the area and give it to them with the hope that they would call former students and offer to take them for a cup of coffee, a drink, or lunch or dinner,” explains Susan Carter, associate dean for development and external relations. “We don’t want them to ask for money. We want them to ask for business cards. The
feelings you have for your undergraduate institution are for the whole institution, but a professional school is a little bit different. The relationships tend to be with professors. So our faculty is our biggest asset in alumni relations and fundraising.”

Similarly, the Association of Emory Alumni (AEA) staff is asking faculty for information about their travel schedules, possible topics for alumni presentations, and times they might be available. And for alumni trips abroad, the aea is seeking faculty “hosts” with a particular expertise in the destination. David Leinweber, a historian of European history at Oxford College, hosted a trip to the Danube last spring. “It seemed like some of the guests hadn’t been all that connected with the alumni office,” he says. “One of my main roles was just to create a little bit of sense of being a part of Emory.”

Implicit in all these activities is faculty buy-in to the campaign platform—the university’s strategic plan. “Having faculty involved in the planning process to me seems critical to the success of the campaign,” says law professor Polly Price, another DUR advisory committee member. “You can have the president and chief officers and development officers out asking for checks, but day to day, the alumni probably remember faculty interactions and the pride they take in the fact that they read about a faculty member in the New York Times. If we’ve been involved in the strategic plan, chances are we’re more engaged in it, then we can become better spokespersons for how we want to be a great university and why it takes so much money.”

But, Franck adds, “we don’t expect faculty to become cheerleaders, because it’s not who they are. We hope that Emory will be better understood externally for what we do, and that we will have a stronger bond internally to each other.”

Making the pitch

Fundraisers do hope some faculty will want to join in on development calls to make a direct request. Exactly what the role of a faculty member would be in such a conversation, however, is not settled. “That’s something I think we still need to iron out,” Earl Lewis says, “the degree to which the folks in development will be asking faculty members to make an ask. One could imagine that being the case, but only after considerable training.”

Training sessions for faculty are now in the works, but it’s hard to imagine instilling the nuances of donor relations with a workshop
or handbook. Such instincts may come naturally to more gregarious faculty like Ken Stein, but they take years to hone. DUR advisory committee member Dave Roberts, an associate professor of medicine at Emory Clinic who has cared for some of Emory’s most generous benefactors, describes some of the subtleties: “You never know when you’re going to get lucky and find a penny on the ground. Maybe I could start paying a little more attention on my journey, but it can’t be my mission, and I can’t go around shaking people’s pockets.”

And what of the assistant professor who is pushing toward
tenure and wants only to finish her second book, or the researcher who finds his work on anion channels difficult to decipher for the non-neuroscientist? Will they miss reaping the benefits of the campaign if they don’t directly participate? “I would hope that it would never get to that kind of quid pro quo,” the provost replies. “It’s not my expectation that we would ever coerce anyone into doing something they’re either not good at or don’t feel comfortable with. One way faculty will contribute is to continue to push the envelope and show by their work that Emory is a central place for the production of new knowledge.”

The campaign’s clarion call gets even more tricky for the clinical professor who faces ethical concerns when patients are also donors or potential donors. In a paper about the role of physicians in development that Roberts presented in 2004 to the Association of Academic Health Centers, he writes that the physician-patient relationship keeps many academic doctors from crossing the line into fundraising: “It is frightening when a doctor starts thinking, ‘My panel is full; should I accept him?’ Or, ‘This is a rich person; maybe I will be nice to her.’” Further, he writes, “many donors expect VIP treatment. . . . In essence, the involved physicians have changed their level of access and availability to the donor for the long term.”

What, then, can he do? “I can cultivate the relationship,” Roberts says. “I can do everything I can to let Emory reveal its treasures. But that’s all. Emory is a phenomenal place with some remarkable things going on that are very hard to access. It’s wonderful to be able to reveal that to patients. And if they become generous because of that, that’s the kind of people they are. That’s not me doing that.”—A.O.A.