Development and Fundraising for Faculty

Alumni Engagement and Development Strategies for Departments.

This document provides some background information for UC Santa Cruz faculty engaged in private fundraising. While the focus is on departmental fundraising efforts, the information shared is relevant to all types of faculty private fundraising, including college-focused fundraising and research initiatives. Core to mature university fundraising programs is to seek support for future-oriented advances in research and education, and to clearly articulate the impact of those programs. Working in close partnership with faculty is central to this work, and coordination with University Advancement and Divisional Deans is critical to ensure units across campus are not asking the same donors.

How do I find individual donors and private foundations interested in supporting my research and educational initiatives?

A good place to start is with your divisional development officer:

To find interested donors beyond the divisions, contact Vice Chancellor of Development Priya Mehta.

In advance, it will be helpful to have considered these questions:

  • What is your vision for what you're trying to accomplish?
  • How does your research address a challenge or broader societal issue or need?
  • What is your (or UCSC's) competitive advantage -- strengths, contributions and qualifications?
  • What is required financially and what impact will it have?

For support in approaching foundations, please contact the Office of Foundation Relations. This office, in partnershiop with the Research Development office develops relationships with regional and national private foundations, helps to identify funding opportunities, and facilitates approaches and proposals.

I have a lead on a donor – who should I contact?

Your divisional development officer is available to speak with you about working with prospective donors. They will partner with you to assess the best strategy for the donor and assist in relationship building and solicitations. They can provide advice on appropriate language to use, how to structure a solicitation and other useful tips. They may also have knowledge of the donor's areas of interest/involvement, as appropriate.

How do I know when to talk to University Advancement and when to talk to the Office of Research?

  • Start with University Advancement on all topics related to generating philanthropic support from individuals.
  • Start with Research Development in the Office of Research when seeking support from federal sources and foundations. If the discussion includes private foundations, UR's Office of Foundation Relations will likely be engaged.
  • A new Innovation and Business Engagement unit reporting both to OR and UR will be the primary point of contact for corporate or business philanthropic and sponsored research efforts.

How do I develop interdisciplinary pitches to donors?

The development team is available to work with groups of faculty who are working across disciplines. As a starting point, please contact Vice Chancellor of Development, Priya Mehta who can assemble a team to work with your group.

How can I develop potential donor relationships?

There are a number of ways University Advancement can help you gain exposure to, and develop relationships with, prospective donors. Please check in with your divisional development officer as a starting point.

Does UCSC accept gifts from donors who live internationally?

Yes. UCSC, like all other UCs, can support receiving gifts from international donors. UC system partners also allow donors specifically in Canada, Hong Kong, United Kingdom and a number of other countries in Europe to make gifts to UCSC in their own country. As there are very specific procedures to follow, please contact Vice Chancellor of Development Priya Mehta .

I am giving a public talk – how do I mention fundraising?

Your divisional development officer can help determine how best to bring the topic fundraising into a presentation, as appropriate.

I am traveling to [city]. Are there alumni and donors to visit and/or can I invite them to my talk?

Possibly. Please start by contacting your divisional development officer.

I have a meeting with a potential donor – what should I say?

Your divisional development officer is the best person to work with to prepare for a donor meeting. They may be able to share helpful information about the prospective donor and will offer tips for how best to discuss your ideas and funding for them.

I want to put together a newsletter or website – what resources are available?

  • A number of newsletters at the University and divisional levels already exist. A first step is to familiarize yourself with those and determine if they can help meet your general communications goals. Your divisional communications professional can help you assess the landscape and help develop a new newsletter as appropriate. Maintaining a newsletter is significant work. We recommend pursuing only if there are resources to maintain.

What is the Board Opportunity Fund?

The UCSC Foundation is a separately incorporated, university supporting non-profit organization that supports the university's fundraising efforts. Board members also serve as ambassadors to promote UCSC's people and programs. Most of the philanthropy raised each year by the university is received by the foundation and transferred to the appropriate university department, or in the case of endowments, invested. The earnings from those investments are transferred annually from the foundation to the appropriate units on campus. Each campus in the University of California has a similar arrangement with their respective foundation.

A committee of the board administers the Board Opportunity Fund (BOF), which is funded by charitable contributions from board members. Awards are intended to provide seed funds to initiate or support growth of campus projects. The BOF Committee generally evaluates proposals on the basis of their alignment with academic priorities, likelihood to leverage additional resources, and ability to raise awareness and visibility for UC Santa Cruz. Applications must have a Foundation trustee sponsor and be supported by a dean or vice-provost. Awards are generally in the $10,000 to $20,000 range. For more information about the Board Opportunity Fund please contact the UCSC Foundation office at

How do I add a “Give Now” button to a web page?

Start by contacting your divisional development officer. They will work with you to ensure an appropriate gift fund is in place and then ask UR's Information Management team to create a pre-populated link directing prospective donors to the University's web giving site.

What is Giving Day? How do I participate?

Giving Day is an annual event typically held during fall quarter when University Advancement hosts and widely promotes a major crowdfunding effort offering donors a myriad of project-based giving opportunities. The event includes the opportunity for project teams to earn bonuses based on various challenges held throughout the day. Some project teams solicit matching funds in advance of Giving Day to incentivize day-of giving. For more context and information, check out the Giving Day website. For more information or to participate, contact your divisional development officer.

Should my department, program, center, or initiative consider forming an advisory council?

There are at least two good reasons to consider forming an advisory council: because you believe an external group of constituents has a perspective, skill set, or other quality or characteristic that would add value to your effort; and/or prospective donors are more likely to contribute generously when they are engaged in a more participatory relationship with an organization or program. An advisory board is often labor intensive, and if not carefully considered and implemented, may not yield the desired results. We recommend proceeding only if the proper staffing resources are available to engage properly with the volunteers. It is often worse to invite membership and the volunteer has a bad experience due to the committee not being supported, to not have invited them in the first place.

How do we steward our donors? How can I do my part?

Stewardship involves the acknowledgment and appreciation of the University's donors. Generally, for gifts of $25,000 or more, our development team generates a stewardship report to communicate the impact of the gift. For endowment gifts, this is an annual process. For the University's largest donors, an annual stewardship plan is developed. If you or your department is the recipient of gift funds, you are encouraged to ask your divisional development officer how you can participate in stewarding the appropriate donor(s). Stewardship efforts range from written reports to in-person meetings.

What should I do if I'd like to learn more about development and fundraising. Is training available?

University Advancement periodically offers faculty information sessions. Additional reading material is available as well. Contact Cindy Rocha for more information.

Additionally, consider serving on the Committee on Development and Fundraising, which serves as a point of interface between the Academic Senate and the Administration to promote faculty engagement in campus fundraising and development.

Training videos:

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