Category Archives: Development

Fundraising and our Return on Investment

One of the key metrics our division monitors and reports to University leadership, including the Board of Regents, is our cost-per-dollar raised. It’s critical that our division strategically use dollars allocated to our work to produce a high return on investment (ROI). Augsburg is careful with resources and leaner than most regional universities. Advancement — our fundraising, alumni, parent, and community relations–is no exception. Nearly all of our peer schools run fundraising operations in the range of $.25 per dollar raised. At Augsburg we hold our expenses to half of that — around $.10-$.12 per dollar raised.

This week the Education Advisory Board posted “3 traits of the most successful advancement offices—and how to put them into practice” including research on fundraising return on investment in higher education. In comparison to the 150 schools included in this EAB study, Augsburg does really well!  For example, we have around 25 FTE and generally hit fundraising totals between $18 million and $25 million. My dad would say that we are “hitting well above our weight class” which you can see illustrated below in the middle blue arrow.

What do we credit our high-ROI to? Augsburg’s Board of Regents and President Paul Pribbenow have been focused on building this type of Advancement division for more than a decade. We have an incredibly strong major and planned gift team that is focused, fast-paced, and committed to shared success. I like the way we are structured and feel good not only about the dollars we raise but the way we go about raising funds. Running a high-ROI program feels like we are focused on what benefits our faculty and students the most: securing support for scholarships, professorships, and the programs that make Augsburg distinct.

New Campaign Milestone

Thanks to thousands of donors, we’ve just wrapped up a fantastic fundraising year at Augsburg University. Between June 1, 2018, and May 31, 2019, over 4,260 donors made commitments totaling $21,915,009 which is one of our strongest fundraising years ever. Thanks to the leadership of Campaign Chair Paul Mueller ’84 and the Board of Regents we also reached the important milestone of $42 million toward Great Returns: Augsburg’s Sesquicentennial Campaign.

There is a growing wave of generosity in the Augsburg community for new professorships, scholarships, unique Augsburg programs like StepUP and CLASS, and toward the Augsburg Fund. Personally, I think this energy is a response to the huge step forward we took building the Hagfors Center for Science, Business, and Religion. And there seems to be a growing sense of importance for the type of education a student can get at Augsburg. I wonder if there may even be a new urgency in our world for education grounded in faith, called to serve a public good, and able to build a sense of community among one of the most diverse student bodies in higher education. With donor support, we can do even more of what Augsburg does best.

Thank you for all you do to make this possible! I’m incredibly grateful for all of the donors, faculty, staff, and volunteers who support the Augsburg mission.