The Ask OLLI blog is a resource for Osher Lifelong Learning Institute administrators to facilitate discussion on a variety of topics related to the creation and management of OLLI institutes nationwide.

Entries to the blog are called "posts" and can only be submitted by blog editors. Please contact Anne Cardale at the OLLI National Resource Center if you have an article suggestion for the AskOLLI editors.

Each post has a "comment" section where blog subscribers can submit their own remarks and responses to the post. A subscriber must be logged in to comment on a post. A login link is available at the bottom of the right-hand column, as well as at the end of each posting page.

Although the Ask OLLI blog is publicly viewable, commenting is closed to non-subscribers. For more information on Ask OLLI, or if you wish to create a subscriber account please contact Anne Cardale.

Fund raising and development

Posted on March 17th, 2010 by Anne Cardale, OLLI National Resource Center

Teresa Morris, OLLI at the University of Georgia Asks OLLI:

OLLI@UGA has just established a new standing committee, Development.  The focus is on fund raising for the organization both from members and the community at large. I am interested in knowing which OLLI’s have a Development Committee and are actively fund raising. Specifically, I would be interested in the type of activities that are being done from simply soliciting on their web site to an annual fund campaign or a particular project/program. Additionally, I am interested in how the funds raised are being utilized for your OLLI.

6 Responses to “Fund raising and development”

  1. We are learning fund raising as we go. We don’t yet have a deveopment committee but have talked about it in member gatherings. So far no members have jumped on the opportunity.

    We have done annual mail campaigns to our members and that has resulted in some gifts. We offer a quantity discount on classes and members have the option to donate their discount which many do.

    Most recently we have done a targeted email campaign to raise money for a couple pieces of equipment.

    Keep us posted as you move forward!


  2. Our OLLI Advisory Council formed a Development Committee in 2009. We expect to begin active fund raising in fall 2010, after we get the go-ahead from our University’s Office of Advancement. Until then, we’re in the quiet phase of fund raising in which we are not openly soliciting funds but can accept donations, and we have received some already. Anticipated solicitation efforts include a letter to current members to introduce the fund raising effort and adding fund raising language to our membership and registration forms. We have learned much from looking on the internet at what other OLLIs are doing and would be eager for a comprehensive listing of what all OLLIs are doing.

  3. Teresa, We do have a committee “Endowment Fund Committee”. We began our process in April 2007 when we received our $1 million endowment. It has been challenging to build a team that can come to consensus and work efficiently and effectively. I THINK we are at a milestone now with a new chair.

    What we’ve done:
    ** The Development folks at Brandeis have mentored us. They tell us what David and others talked about at the Osher Conference in Utah - it is about the individuals and working with them over time.
    ** We have done a couple of events - one a concert and desserts and another a “cocktail party”. As Development predicted, we lost money on both.
    ** The other thing we do is Parlor Meetings - small groups at members’ homes where a group of people come and learn about fundraising. We follow up.
    ** As other - annual campaign.
    ** A lot of education.
    Good luck.

  4. Thank you all for your feedback. I am wondering how many volunteers do you have on your Development committee? I have one person that I have worked with before who has agreed to be on the committee and I am actively trying to recruit others. How difficult has it been?

    Sharon, one suggestion we had from a member regarding an event was to have a cocktail party with a speaker, in the case of UGA where sports are a big deal, an atheletic coach, depending on the season, address the members regarding the ucoming season. There would be a charge to come to the event (the fund raising part) and the cocktails would be a cash bar. I am considering that for the future.
    When you say a lot of education…do you mean trying to educate your members on why they should give?
    Regards, Teresa

  5. Development and fundraising: just another learning opportunity for those of us who administer OLLIs. . . :-)

    OLLI-USF established a Development committee in 2007. It has been a slow, deliberate, and to some, frustrating process. As I tell these committee members, “you can get me fired faster than anyone else,” so you want to recruit your Development chair carefully. We’ve been fortunate that three great chairs have led this committee for us over that time. You want someone who can work within the University fundraising framework, who can herd the great fundraisers who will also chafe at working within the University system, and who is passionate about your OLLI.

    Our committee has between 6 - 9 members. One concentrates on business sponsorships; he has been able to raise between $4,000 - $7,000 a year over the last five years. The others have been busy developing a set of protocols to follow to ensure we don’t get into trouble by soliciting entities or persons the Foundation has set their sights on. Our university is in the midst of a huge campaign right now. And yes, it can be tough to recruit members for this committee! Again, a great and charismatic chair will help you recruit a great committee. Our current Development chair is our founder: she has a great presence and reputation in our community. She has also worked in our Foundation, so she is somewhat familiar with the people and the ropes. I relied on our long friendship in asking her to serve.

    We’re in the second year of learning how to run our Annual Fund drive. The committee has finally understood that members are our best and likeliest contributors. That drive involved a kick-off event last November which featured one of our beloved faculty; messages to OLLI classes, colorful, funny reminders about the Fund drive included with our registration receipts, and most recently, an “ask” letter to our members. Even before that letter went out, we had raised just over $4,000. Our committee’s lofty goal is to raise $30,000 by July 1.

    When Sharon mentions education, she indeed means educating your members and why they should give. They need to understand that their fees and memberships just barely cover the cost of operating. Our operations are accustomed to operating on a shoestring, but growth and new directions demand more. We also needed to work on the mentality that some Foundation or business out there was just waiting to give us the funds we need! Finally, our committee understands that no one will save us but us.

    Members are going to want to know what you plan to do with the money. So spend some time up front deciding what you’ll really use it for. All our fundraising publications mention our goals:
    * volunteer and leadership development and recognition;
    * equipment upgrades for our classes, and
    * scholarships for those who cannot afford to participate.

    We are working on developing a “giving link” on our website as well and hope to have that up before too long.

    It takes time to do this right! Good luck to us all.

  6. We have had our raising committee for the past 5 years working towards raising funds for a new building for OLLI on campus. So far we have raised $2.7 million. Some key things to remember when setting up and running a development committee is that 1. Peer to Peer (affinity group) asks will always win out over ANY other type of fund raising event or method. It is patient and methodical work but the results are far, far greater. 2. Weigh the time spent with money earned on any fund raising event (if you burn out your volunteers who worked for 8 months on a silent auction that raises $10,000 should you really do it again?) 3. Follow up any mail campaign with a phone call or personal ask. Remeber you aren’t asking for money for you it is for their program too! 4. Keep your donors informed of the campaign’s progress. (Just because they gave once doesn’t mean you should leave them alone, they are your biggest advocates and supporters treat them that way!) 5. Fund raising and Development are two very different things. Fund raising is bake sales and galas. Development is building relationships by getting to know your potential donors so you learn when, who and the right way to ask them for a gift.
    6. Finally, always thank your donors with a personal note in a timely manner. It makes all the difference in the world. Remember its all about relationships.

Leave a Reply…

You must be logged in to post a comment.