32: Funding a 10-Figure Capital Campaign at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign w/ Jon Salvani

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Jon Salvani, Director of Advancement and Team Lead for Chicago Regional Advancement Team at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, discusses how to game plan for a 10-figure capital campaign using key market approaches, creative fundraising opportunities, advancement ambassadors, and more.

You're listening to enrollment growth university fromHelix Education, the best professional development podcast for higher education leaders looking to growenrollment at their college or university. Whether you're looking for fresh enrollment growth techniquesand strategies or tools and resources, you've come to the right place. Let'sget into the show. Welcome back to enrollment growth university, a proud memberof the connected to you podcast network. I'm Eric Olson, AVP of marketingat Helix Education, and we're here today with John Silvani, director of advancementand team lead for Chicago Regional Advancement team at the University of Illinois at UrbanaChampagne. John, welcome to the show. Thanks Eric. Thanks for having me. John and I were former colleagues together at Lewis University near Chicago andI'm super excited to talk with him today about his work at the University ofIllinois and how they're approaching a ten figure capital campaign. But before we diginto that, John, can you get the listeners a little bit better understandingof both your role and the University of Illinois? Yeah, so University ofIllinois or banish Champaign, but it's the flagship institution here at the State ofIllinois. Are Land Grant University located in Urbana Champaign, Central Illinois. Herein the State of Illinois, my role as director of advancement and team lead, I manage our Chicago regional advancement program for the Urbana champaign campus. Soour charge is to do fundraising alumni engagement here in the Chicago area. Wehave a third of our alumni base, over a hundred and Seventyzero alums herein the city and the surrounding suburbs and the eight color counties. So obviouslya very daunting task, but that's our teams charge and we're located actually indowntown Chicago at our line center, which is our regional office for the university. Awesome, John, as a public are one school, only about twelvepercent of your funding comes from the State of Illinois. Talk about at highlevel how critical philanthropic giving is to augment in Roman revenue. Yeah, youknow, it is huge for us, and I'm not even just for theUniversity of Illinois in general, but a lot of our state. Our statepeers are also seeing the importance of that. You know, philanthropic giving is whatreally helps us create funding opportunities to recruit students. You know, Idid not even just recruiting students, but retaining students, whether it's in theform of scholarships or program funding. It also even you take that at thefaculty level. This gives them, give us an opportunity for us to recruitkey faculty members to the university through professorships, through endowed chairs. So philanthropy isis a huge part of what we're trying to do. Since the Stateof Illinois, and one of the things that I think is a thought outthere that most people believe is that the state of Illinois provides the university amajority of its funding, and that's not really the case and over the lastfifteen years, you know, that revenue...

...has decreased over time and so inorder to fill that gap, philanthropy is going to be very important and andluckily for many of us working in these roles at identifying the opportunities with donors. It gives not just the donor the opportunity to make that impact here atour university, but it allows us to be able to provide those impact opportunitiesto the students in faculty and the recipients of that generosity. Your current withIllinois campaign is a two and a quarter billion dollar capital campaign. As you'replanning that out from an allocation standpoint, from a goal setting standpoint, wheredo you envision it all coming from? Between Small and large gifts, newdonors versus existing donors, alums versus, you know, corporations in a stategifts? How do you create a game plan for how this is all goingto happen? That's a very good question, Erica. You know, it isa I mean two and a quarter billion. I mean that's a dauntingnumber. This is probably the biggest fundraising campaign that I've been a part ofin my career. Obviously, this is the to a quarter billion dollar campaignis just for the University of Illinois, or ban a champaign. That doesn'tinclude the other universities within the University of Illinois System, right. So that'sjust for us here at Urbana and that is, as you can see,a pretty daunting number. So there is a lot of a lot of strategyinvolved. You know. They we just went into the public phase of ourcampaign this past October. So we got five years remaining to this campaign andso we've been in silent phase now for the last few years and luckily forus at this point now we're about halfway to our goal, and that's bigright. Oh, actually, I would say probably over halfway at this point. So for us, you know, planning this out, you know settingyour goals. Our operation is a very centralized decentralized model, where you havea centralized unit like myself, which supports the entire campus, all of ourcolleges, all of our academic units, degree granting, nondegree granting, evenathletics. We work based upon those units who have their own advancement shops.So many of our individual colleges have their own advancement team working in them solelyfor their college, you know, and for their units, and so wehave to work closely with them in order to make sure that what we're tryingto do is also meeting their fundraising priorities and what their goals are for thecampaign. You know, where do we envision it all? Coming from allover the place, you know, from from our recent grads to our establishedseason professionals out there who are graduates from our institution, from our corporate partners. You know, one of the things we're trying to do more of herein Chicago is connecting with our corporations and using our alumni as champions in thoseefforts, you know, and a lot of it is it with our existingdonors, asking them to if they would consider making another gift in support ofour campaign in order to help us achieve that goal. We have a groupin our foundation, Eric that that helps us with gift planning and a stategifts, you know, everything from your...

...bequests and remembering us in your willto, you know, ways that we can make charitable gift a nuities orcharitable remainder trusts work for those donors interested in doing that. There's plenty ofopportunities there where we can work closely with our donors to make that experience notjust easy for them, but in a way where they feel that it's againgoing back to impact and making it impactful not just for them but for therecipients of their generosity. So it's going to really come from everywhere and youknow, you asked about creating a game plan on how this is going tohappen. A lot of folks involved, you know this is this campaign cannotbe solely done by one or two people, right. So there are are hundredsof folks who are involved in this from marketing standpoint, from a donorstrategy standpoint, to a to just even getting the message out there about ourour campaign. So creating a game plan is important, but obviously there's alot of factors and parts in that and and that campaign plan is always,I consider Eric, pretty fluid. You know, you never know what canhappen to years from now. You know, back in the early thousand who wouldhave thought that we would have had a market crash or, you know, Acom bubble burst or anything else like that. That right. So youknow, a lot of those plans, even though we think it's a greatplan now, two years from now it may need some adjusting. You know, some of the plans that we had here just in Chicago two years agoneed adjusting now because we've had some you know, some new opportunities pop up, some changes where we've got some new support coming through and changing our gameplan and strategy. So I think there's a lot of moving parts but ultimately, at the end everybody's got the same goal in mind. We need tomake that campaign a success. Let's talk about your key market approach for fundraisingand the specific team that you're over. So a third of you, ofis alumni base is located in the Chicago Metro area. How do you thinkabout targeting not just individuals but an entire city? Yeah, you know,and that's one of the reasons why our team is in place here. AboutGosh, Eric, I want to say about six years ago there was talkfrom the university about expanding our presence in Chicago. We had this a linecenter here for at that time, close to six seven years. You know, it was one of those opportunities where we knew our Chicago market needed moreattention, and so for us it was creating a team here, and actualteam we used to have developed. We had development officers here, but alot of them were either unit based or we probably had maybe one or twothat were specifically in a central type role like we are today. So itwas first having the dedication to and support to create a team here and thenputting a team in place, which my predecessor at the time brought me onboard here and then we brought on a couple other folks and more development officersat our charge was basically to be the boots on the ground here in theChicago area. We ended up bringing on...

...a marketing and communication professional specifically chargedwith not just helping for the marketing and communication for the university and working withour advancement office and our public affairs office, but his key strategy is to howdo we do that here more effectively in Chicago, and that's not justfrom a billboard perspective or signs across the city, it's how do we workwith our media partners? How do we work with the newspapers, television andall that to be sure our message is coming across. So, you know, my team is in charge of doing that and I have development officers andadministrative professionals here that helped me. Or we're our charges to go in anddo fundraising here in Chicago. We manage our alumni ambassador board, our lineeye leadership council, you know, things like that to make sure we're gettingthe message out. And again, you know, when you talk about ahundred and Seventyzero alums here in the Chicago area, third of our alumni basebeing here in the Chicago metropolitan area, it's going to take a lot morethan just, you know, a small team to really do that. Andso for us to partner up with our campus colleagues and friends there in Champagne. Gives us the opportunity to not just do our own touch points but workwith them to do their touch points as well, to try to cover asmuch as we can, not just here in the city but throughout the surroundingsuburb so it is a daunting task, but we are very fortunate that wehave the support of our senior leadership there on campus to make that possible herein Chicago and everybody understands the importance of us being able to make sure wecontinue keeping our presence here in the Chicago area strong. You mentioned how howcritical marketing is from a brandon marketing perspective. This, this campaign isn't a oneoff creative execution. Your marketing team, your central Marcom team, is treatingthis for what it is, a massive marketing campaign. What particular marketingsupport are you looking for from your central unit in order to be successful?Yeah, you know, one of the things we we continue to talk aboutweekly, in fact I just had a conversation about this yesterday, is howdo we continue to just keep the message relevant and and out there? Andnow that we've embarked on this with Illinois campaign. You know, one ofthe things we need to have as a vessel for continued marketing messages about thecampaign out here, whether it is campaign launch events, which is what we'rethinking about doing throughout the country. We did one here in Chicago back inDecember which was I thought, very successful. Great message coming out there and notnot US asking them to give money while they were there, but toshow them what the with Illinois campaign is all about and if they would hopefullyconsider at some point wanted to support it. Right. So, know, thingslike that, having our billboards, you know, something as simple asbillboards across some of our major major interstates and major intersection points here within thecity and suburbs to make sure that people are still seeing Illinois out there andstrategically placing them in spots where, you know, it feels like they're seeingus all over the place, but we're at the same time, we're justmoving the signs all around. You know,...

...it's things like that, right.But being able to not just do that, but to be able tohave our campus, our campus colleagues and friends continuing to have a presence here, you know, making themselves visible. It's all about visibility for us because, as we all know, especially for folks who are in the marketing arena, it's all about visual and perception, right and being able to see.You know, if you they see it more, they know about it more. You know, they may tend to even look into it even more.Right. So I think for us, and and luckily for us, wehave a campaign, marketing strategic group down on campus whose sole purpose is toreally get out there and make sure the message is coming across, and noteven just as a central university, but partnering up with our colleges and havingthat message consistent with the individual colleges and units there on campus. And then, you know, a lot of that rolls up to what we're trying todo here in Chicago. So, you know, that type of support iswhat we look for, you know, and we we also return that favorto them, you know, how put them and partnering up with them inorder to for us to, you know, have an effective strategy, especially herein Chicago because, you know, as you talked about, it isa marketing it is a massive marketing campaign. You know, we rebranded just recentlyhere at the university and and moved everything from a branding standpoint, toour orange block eye, which is what everybody typically associates that that logo,to university. Right. Yeah, sure. Our marketing campaign, or our Ishould say our campaign itself, our fundraising campaign, is the first biginitiative at the university that is solely using the orange block eye in the logoand all the campaign and marketing materials. So there's a lot of just likeanything else, a lot of moving parts, but that's the kind of support welook for. So that way the wreck the brand continues to stay strongbut at the same time gives us an opportunity to to send the message outabout our campaign to everybody around here, because again, it's going to hita lot of people, you know, and hopefully make that impact that welook for. I know that your advancement ambassadors, those who are givers themselves, are are such a vital part of your campaign strategy. Yeah, howdo you intentionally empower your ambassadors with the the messaging they need, the brandvalue props, the the academic points of view, the vision that you're thatyou're aiming for in order to be effective ambassadors? Yeah, you know,over the last Gosh, Eric, I want to say. Over the lasteleven years we've had this group called the aligne leadership hustle. It is agroup of, as you just mentioned, alumni ambassadors, who's alumni advancement ambassadors, I should say, whose sole purposes really help us further our advancement mission, especially here in the Chicago area. These are very passionate individuals, folkswho have our major gift donors themselves, right. They understand the importance ofadvancement. They get it. So their charge just to get out there andhelp us spread the advancement message around in...

...their in their network. So,which is really one of the big, big advantages of this group, becausethis group is very well connected here in the Chicago land area. So theycan introduce us to folks within their network. They've got a lot of alums whohave come back to them and said, Hey, we've always wanted to helpthe university, just didn't know how to do it. There are startingpoint, right, and then they can make those a necessary introductions, eitherto me or to folks on my staff or folks here at the university.You know, that's their charge and it's so important to have them, especiallywhen you're in a campaign mode. Because, as I mentioned earlier, we've beenin the silent phase of our campaign for the last few years. Thisgroup we've been constantly reporting to them with the status or the campaign things thatare going on where we're at. So they've actually been in the know aboutsome of the stuff we've been working on within the silent phase, Andy andthat was important because they can understand how we evolved into now the public phaseof this campaign. And so you know, it is very important empowering them withthe information they need to go out there. So we meet three timesa year, Eric and and those meetings are pretty robust meetings. We havethem meeting with university officials, and we're talking senior leadership roles, so everythingfrom Dean's to the provost to the chancellor, senior directors that have that play abig part in many of the things that are going on here at theuniversity. So they can get updated on things everything from admissions to student affairsto college updates to our alumni association, our new alumni alliance. There isjust they get so much good information that they can take back in here andthen sometimes they it moves them where they feel like they can help them outand introduce those particular folks to to contact within the Chicago area that could helpthem out, and so it's such a win win opportunity for them to comeout there as alumni advancement ambassadors for us to get that key message going andknow that we've got that trusted group going out there and and spreading the Illinoislove to to the folks that they want to share it with and then beable to answer questions. And so, you know, for us, andfor me personally, because I work very closely with this board, it isimportant for them to be able to understand and know the key messages that arebeing shared out there and for them to be in the know not only makesthem feel proud even more, even more proud of what's going on here atthe university and being a proud alum, but they also feel very empowered atthat point to be able to share that information and and feel very confident knowingthat they know who they can talk to and work with to help us getthe job done out here. It is such a good idea. John.Are there any particularly creative or unique or new ways you're looking to try tosolicit big gifts from donors, you know, offering naming rights or any other novelapproaches. Yeah, you know, one of the things that we're reallystarting to embark on here at the university...

...as a lot of renovation projects.We've got, as you can imagine, a universe who's been around since onethousand eight hundred and sixty seven. We got some old buildings, some oldbuildings where some of our older alums, if they come back to visit campus, go into the building and it looks the same way that it's looked whenthey were when they were there at school. You know, Eric there's a lotof great opportunities that and and creative ones that we're trying to do moreof now where we're a lot of it is building renovations, you know,opportunities to name a space who and that space would be in perpetuity, youknow, for the life of the building really. You know, they getthey get the opportunity to do that. Some some get the opportunity to bea part of some new construction that's going up, like our marching a line. I just have a new instructional tower that went up on their practice field. Donors have the opportunity to get their name placed on that tower. That'sa new initiative as something that hadn't been done before. It's so it's thingslike that where we offer creative, new ways to do that. We,you know, part of our campaign, you know, is is scholarship,you know, and in getting some new scholarships. So our college of Engineering, for example, has an engineering visionary scholarship program where their charges to raisea hundred million dollars for scholarships for College of Engineering Students there at Illinois.You know, it's things like that, creative ways to to showcase that there'sa way to make an impact here and for for you to be able todo so in a large manner, you know, in a six or sevenfigure manner. You know, everything from those those named spaces to name thescholarships, professorships, chairs, fellowships, you name it. And I thinknow the fun part is that a lot of our colleges are finding creative waysfor us to be able to do that and give those opportunities to our donors. So not only does it benefit the college and unit receiving that generosity right, it also helps our campaign, it also helps the university in general,and such a win win for everybody. So those are all types of creativeways and, like I told you, I mean again to three years fromnow I could look even different. You know, we may have more projectsin the horizon and as a lot of that stuff with the long term plan. But, you know, creative, wise and and fun ways to doagain, we've definitely been able to open up some new opportunities for our donorsto be involved and be and to make that impact will give to to theuniversity. It's awesome, John. For institutions who are a few years behindyou chron A, logically, in terms of where they are at it theircapital campaign, any next step recommendations for them who are about to embark onthis, you know, tendigit capital campaign, how they should approach the task strategically? Yeah, well, one a lot of patients. You know,you again, like we talked about it. You know, a campaign of thatsize there's a lot of moving parts, right. You know, understanding whatthe campaign priorities are, not just for your institution but for all thecolleges and units that are going to be a part of that comprehensive campaign.I think it's always keeping that out, that communication open. You know,everybody's going to have their thoughts and ideas...

...of what they want to have intheir campaigns, you know, and there's always going to be that dream of, you know, the ideal situation for them if they were to embark intoa campaign and and what it would cover, and understanding that there is going tobe a lot of moving parts to it. But to have that patientsand to really strategically think about it. How do you not just not justdetermining what your fundraising goal is, because that's always important, but how areyou going to achieve that? What's the marketing plan? You know, whatare you how are you going to get the message out there? Who areyou going to work with? How Does Your Donor Pyramid look? Are yougoing to be is this a realistic goal? Is this a stretch goal? Typicallycampaigns or stretch goals, and so you know, who do you knowthat you can reach out to you to help, you know, make thatstretch gift, or gifts, I should say, you know, to helpachieve that goal. And so I think there's a lot of a lot ofstrategy involved in that and keeping that open communication going and continue to have thatongoing communication once you launch your campaign, not just after the silent phase typething, and it going in there and continuing to have those conversations once yougo into the public launch, because that's when it really starts to make adifference because you're going out there now and it's become live, it's out therefor people to see. And so I think that having that thought process andthen just have fun with it, you know, is it? No,you know, it's no different from our our typical advancement daily routine, right, going out there and cultivating and building those relationships. And you know,with campaigns you're going to be starting to build a lot of newer relationships,which I find to be the fun part of the job. You know,it's have fun with it because if, again, if you're having fun withit, you do the job right, you'll meet your campaign goal, you'llmeet the campaign and hopefully blow away your campaign goal. And so I thinkthis those points just, you know, from a strategic standpoint, just keepthat communication line open and just keep talking, because there's going to be ways tocontinue tweaking to help make that campaign a success. John, thanks somuch for sharing such great thoughts today. What is the best place for listenersto connect with you? With they have any followup questions? Yeah, youknow, the best place to connect with me would be through Linkedin. Connectwith me on Linkedin. That's John Jo en Salvani SA l va N I. You know, feel free to connect with me on Linkedin, send mea message and would love to share contact information and and same for me.I'd love to share some Info and and hear, if what other institutions aredoing, because we're all we're all in this together. It's a great learningexperience for everybody. So I'm always open to hearing some some new thoughts andideas that, you know, would be helping myself as well. So Ithink this some great opportunity there. So yeah, could linkedin would probably bethe best way to connect with me. Awesome. Thanks against so much forjoining us today, John, and best of luck with the rest of thecampaign. Thanks, Eric, appreciate it. Thanks for your time. To attractingtoday's new post traditional learners means adopting new enrollment strategies. Helix educations datadriven, enterprise wide approach to enrollment growth...

...is uniquely helping colleges and universities thrivein this new education landscape, and Helix has just published the second edition oftheir enrollment growth playbook with fifty percent brand new content on how institutions can solvetoday's most pressing enrollment growth challenges. Downloaded today for free at Helix Educationcom.Playbook. You've been listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education. To ensurethat you never miss an episode, subscribe to the shown itunes or your favoritepodcast player. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time.

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