Fundraising effectiveness: Definition and measurement at a women's college

Marsha Hoffman Comegno, University of Pennsylvania


This dissertation, a historical qualitative study of the definition and measurement of fundraising effectiveness at Randolph-Macon Woman's College (R-MWC), analyzes the leadership, organization of personnel, donor relations, fundraising strategies and goals in the context of changing economic climates over the last two decades. The study focuses on fundraising effectiveness as defined by different campus constituencies, the effect of campus resources, the process of creating and evaluating donor contacts, and professional activities implemented to achieve campaign goals. The study puts its findings in a context applicable to other women's and liberal arts colleges. Fundraising effectiveness is a very difficult concept to measure. Duronio and Loessin (1991) and Brittingham and Pezzullo (1990) support the conventional wisdom that an institution is effective or ineffective depending on the number of dollars raised. However, Kelly (1991), Dunlop (1987), and Smith (1981) argue that efficiency and gift utility are better measurements of fundraising effectiveness. The research was conducted at R-MWC through three capital campaigns, three college presidents, and many personnel additions. It includes thirty-five interviews with board members, presidents, administrators, alumnae, faculty, and students, and examines relevant development office, alumnae office, and financial documents. This dissertation defines fundraising effectiveness based on people, participation, proceeds, preparation, and pride. The data indicate that people, or relationships, are essential to R-MWC's fundraising success. The participation and generous donations of alumnae and board members are extraordinarily significant. Preparation for donor asks and pride for R MWC encourages alumnae contributions. A demonstrated commitment to gift utility and a strong effort to maintain efficiency despite the economy and changes in personnel are necessary for continued success. However, changing student demographics call for new fundraising education and strategies. This change includes a prospective tracking system to indicate how the relationship with a donor is progressing and to provide management with a measure of accountability.

Subject Area

Higher education|School administration

Recommended Citation

Comegno, Marsha Hoffman, "Fundraising effectiveness: Definition and measurement at a women's college" (2004). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3137312.