Foundation leader outlines future of securing donations

WSU fundraisers look to modernize system, bring in more money

YASMEEN WAFAI, Evergreen assistant editor

The university’s chief fundraiser said at a Faculty Senate meeting Thursday that she plans to bring in more and bigger donations, as well as improve the WSU Foundation’s operations.

Lisa Calvert, vice president for advancement and WSU Foundation CEO, said that to sustain its philanthropy, the foundation is engaging a broader base of donors, securing more gifts and encouraging donors to give more.

Calvert based her report off a Philanthropic Impact Study, in which WSU interviewed 183 people from the foundation, academic branches and the Board of Regents.

While WSU has had two campaigns, she said, its program is still fairly young.

“It’s not about a campaign, it’s not about a number,” Calvert said. “It’s about long-term growth.”

From the study, she said, the foundation learned of significant gaps in process, procedures, policy and technology. She said outdated technology means donors must go through 32 steps to enter a gift.

In order to succeed, Calvert said, the foundation needs to focus on its ability to bring in money, as well as staffing, resources and bold new ideas.

The current campaign has brought in $1.2 billion in outright gifts and commitments from individuals, which is three times more than the previous campaign. The Board of Regents voiced support for President Kirk Schulz’s plan to launch a $1.5 to $2 billion fundraiser in 2019.

Calvert said an industry expert could look into the foundation’s finances and operations, and implement a program to bring in larger donations.

As for new ideas, Calvert said, the bolder the better. She said WSU has the opportunity to move from traditional thinking to more donor-centric thinking.