I’ve just started reading Laura Fredricks’s The Ask: How to Ask for Support for Your Nonprofit Cause, Creative Project, or Business Venture for work. Whether I like it or not, a large part of my job is fundraising, and my success or failure will largely be measured by my ability to raise money for my college.

There are a lot of obstacles to this goal. Not the least of these is the fact that I have no experience asking for money. Even so, my first year as dean was fairly successful in terms of external gifts to the college: we had an increase of 50% over the previous year. This fact is misleading, however, since the previous year’s giving was relatively small — it didn’t take much to surpass it.

I also have a bit of a cushion this year: one planned gift for which the paperwork was completed this year almost made up my entire goal of the year. But as a planned gift, my college won’t see any of it until the donor passes away, not something that we’re hoping for anytime soon.

While these first two years have therefore technically been successful, my college increasingly needs cash money. Our university’s budget, like everyone else’s, is in the crapper, and the only way I’m going to be able to continue funding some programs is if they receive external support.

My boss would like for me to attend a workshop in Florida next month about fundraising, but the simple fact is that I don’t have a travel budget that will support both going to a workshop and doing actual fundraising. So, I’ve had to choose the latter over the former — I’ve already made one short alumni/development trip since the beginning of the year. In the next few months, I will be making additional ones to Cleveland and San Francisco for sure and to Missouri, Boston, Chicago, and New York potentially.

(more…)