The University of Texas Medical School at Houston The University of Texas Medical School at Houston
February 13, 2009 | from the Office of Dean Giuseppe Colasurdo

Distributed on Fridays via e-mail to all Medical School employees, students, residents, and postdoctoral fellows, UT 2 Me is Dean Giuseppe Colasurdo's weekly update of news and items of interest. He also welcomes feedback through this two-way communication.

Given the current economic climate in Austin, the Medical School is increasingly turning its sights toward fundraising to seek resources through which we can bolster our programs and better serve our missions. Fundraising is key for the school, and I thank President Larry Kaiser for his support of these efforts. With this renewed  attention on philanthropy, I am dedicating this week’s issue of UT 2 Me to the topic with a question-and-answer session with three of our development experts: Dr. Stanley Schultz, associate dean for institutional advancement; Susan Coulter, vice president of institutional advancement; and Jackie Callies, executive director of development and alumni relations.

Q: What is the new structure of development for the Medical School?
Dr. Schultz:
What we have done over the last year is significantly increase the number of individuals dedicated to development for the Medical School. We have defined and grouped our fundraising priorities and have assigned individuals to support these groups. I will serve as advisor to the dean and as the interface between his office and the Office of Development and Alumni Relations.

Q: What are the development priorities of the school?
Dr. Schultz: We have five main areas of focus for fundraising :

  1. Translational research, largely developing in the new Medical School Expansio, including neuroscience, infectious disease, cancer biology and signal transduction, regenerative medicine, medical genetics, and immunology.  All of these areas are timely and vibrant, and are well represented in this school. We hope to build upon existing strengths but are by no means excluding new, promising fronts. Clearly, this priority list is meant to be inclusive not exclusive.
  2. Educational programs and scholarships. We are particularly wanting in scholarships, and increasing our endowment will be given a high priority.
  3. Grateful patient giving.
  4. Alumni relations and the annual giving program.
  5. Children’s Learning Institute.

Q: What are the next steps for development at the Medical School?
While these are very difficult and trying economic times, the Medical School Development Office will continue to raise the visibility and awareness of the school’s priorities by showcasing faculty at various events, coordinating site visits to the Medical School, and scheduling one-on-one meetings with potential contributors and faculty. Our goal is to engage these individuals and when the economy strengthens, we hope they will consider us in their philanthropic plans. More and more, there will be opportunities for the Medical School to submit proposals.  Right now, the doors are opening … individuals and foundations are considering significant proposals to further enhance our programs.

In addition, we are currently meeting, and will continue to meet, with members of our Medical School Advisory Council members. This council is made up mostly of the Health Science Center’s Development Board members who have a strong interest in the Medical School. We are working to engage them and have asked each of them to sign on as a “champion” for one of the school’s priorities. They are a very influential group of individuals and many have offered to host event on our behalf to highlight our faculty

Q: What stage is the process in now?
Jackie: Development is always ONGOING with each potential contributor and current contributor. There are several phases in fund raising:  1) Identification, 2) Cultivation, 3) Solicitation, 4) Close Gift, 5) Stewardship. Once a gift is secured and you begin the stewardship and acknowledgement process, individuals are automatically being cultivated for the next gift.  Fundraising is never-ending!

Q: What are the goals and the timeline?
The Medical School Development office has a $22M goal for FY09. With the tough economic times, we are behind in our numbers. To date, we have secured $4.3M in cash and new commitments to Medical School programs. While the numbers are low, we are optimistic that many of our currently submitted proposals will be funded.

Q: What can employees and students do to help this effort?
Faculty, staff, and students play an integral part in fundraising. These individuals are the liaisons to grateful patients.  It’s also worth noting that people invest in people … people give to the faculty and their programs, they invest in the education of our students. Development Officers are merely facilitators, putting the right people, in the right place, at the right time. With that said, we encourage you to participate in site visits, after-hour functions as well as lunch and dinner meetings with potential contributors.

Q: What are the expectations of the Medical School’s development program? How are these in line with the greater development goals of the Health Science Center?
Susan: Ultimately, we expect that the Medical School will receive approximately 50 percent of all philanthropic funds secured for the university on an annual basis.  In FY08, the Medical School actually fared better than that:  our overall goal for the UTHSC-H was to secure $40M in new commitments in FY08.  Our actual commitments for last year totaled $71M, of which, $41M was committed to the Medical School.
As you may know, the university leadership, including Dean Colasurdo, made an investment in Institutional Advancement last year.  As a result, we saw a substantial increase in funds secured throughout the university and, in particular, at the Medical School (i.e., New cash and new pledges in FY06 to the Medical School totaled $17.6M; in FY07: $6.6M; and in FY08: $41M).

Q: What should our expectations be of development?
Susan: This year is a year of building and strengthening relationships with potential contributors and volunteers. It is a year of working with faculty so they are comfortable with the fundraising process and confident in our program.  It’s also a year of continued refinement of our Development infrastructure, in the central office as well as in each of the schools of the Health Science Center.  Our emphasis this year, internally, will be to further focus and define specific areas for fundraising as determined by the Dean, and to develop good communication materials about these areas by working with faculty leaders. Externally, our focus will be to reenergize and expand the advisory councils for each school. Medical School Advisory Council Chair Drew Kanaly and Co-Chair Barry Lewis, along with Development Board Immediate Past Chair David Grimes, have devoted countless hours to further engage current Medical School Advisory Council members and to identify new members. Also, externally, we will be working to introduce as many potential contributors as possible to the programs of this school. We will be hosting more site visits, dinners, lunches, and other outreach events.  Finally, this year we will explore in earnest possibilities for collaborating with Memorial Hermann Foundation to secure additional funding for the Medical School.

Q: How will faculty, or staff, or students, be involved?
We need a lot of help and involvement from faculty, staff and students. Not only are they essential to telling the story of our programs, but they are essential to building relationships with potential contributors and volunteers. Our volunteers and contributors, more than anything, want to hear from those who are on the frontlines of what we do.

Q: What are the “Top 10” rules of fundraising?
I’m not sure that we as a profession could agree on a “Top 10” list, but there are a few fundamentals of fundraising that I’m happy to share.

  1. It’s Donor Driven.  More and more, contributors are taking an active role in determining how their gifts are directed and utilized. First, it is their money and they want to decide how to spend it. Second, the reason they have resources to give away is because they have been very successful in life through their hard work and intellect. Contributors generally are passionate and very well informed about the areas to which they give.
  2. Selecting Priorities for Fundraising.  Every organization, especially those as large as the UT Medical School, has many, many areas of excellence that are worthy of philanthropic support.  However, there can never be enough resources in the Development Office to facilitate fundraising campaigns for every area of the school. Generally, we manage this dilemma in two ways:  (1) by asking the Dean and other leaders to select their top priorities for fundraising (usually no more than three to five areas); and (2) by working with individual potential contributors who come forward or are identified by faculty, staff or volunteers, who have particular interests in giving to areas that are not on the priority list, but are still important to the mission of the school. 
  3. Opportunities versus Needs.  People want to invest in winning programs in order to help enable that program to achieve an even higher level of excellence. They usually do not want to invest in areas that need support to stay alive. In philanthropy, we must lead from our strengths.
  4. Managing Expectations.  Philanthropy is a slow, deliberate process. The rule of thumb is that it takes 12 – 18 contacts over 18 – 24 months to secure a single major gift ($100,000 or above). These contacts are designed to create and strengthen the relationship between the contributor and the institution. The “cultivation” process has four parts:  (1) gaining the interest of the contributor (events, media, community speaking engagements, brochures/communications—much of this happens through good public relations and marketing); (2) getting the contributor involved ( treating them as a patient; enlisting them onto our volunteer boards or committees; asking them to host an event for us; hosting them  for homecoming – much of this is done through physicians relations, alumni relations and board relations); (3) securing a series of investments from them (over a period of 20 – 30 years, beginning with annual giving, and, hopefully, moving to major giving then to leadership or legacy giving – facilitated by the Development Office with the President, Dean and faculty involved), and finally (4) being caring and excellent stewards of their gifts (reporting, acknowledging, doing what we said we would do – facilitated by the Development Office, with faculty and others involved).  This process does not happen in one year, two years, or even three. But, we will begin to see very good things if we invest in a solid, comprehensive and excellent Development program over a period of 5 – 10 years. 


Have a great weekend,


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