Ten State Councils Receive Capacity-Building Grants to Boost Fundraising

CIC awarded Capacity-Building Grants to ten State Councils in March 2020. One of four competitive grant programs open to CIC State Councils each year, the Capacity-Building Grant program supports projects that will increase a State Council’s fundraising capability. Eligible projects often include marketing materials or special events designed to engage prospective donors. The grants provide a cash award to support projects that might “move the needle” for independent higher education in the selected state.

“The Capacity-Building Grant program provides modest grants that make a big difference,” remarked Carol Schuler, CIC vice president for State Council programs. “This year’s applicant pool was the largest ever. State Councils and their members increasingly recognize that, although limited staff resources or marketing dollars can be major stumbling blocks to fundraising success, this grant program helps advance a state’s base of support.”

The 2020 grants will support the following projects:

Associated College of Illinois (ACI) will form a leadership council to champion the value of the liberal arts and sciences and to raise funds for ACI. To launch the project, ACI will engage Campbell & Company, a national fundraising firm that is helping ACI develop a major gifts program. Located in Chicago, ACI plans to leverage the city’s large network of top corporations that benefit from the strengths of private higher education in Illinois.

Association of Independent Kentucky Colleges and Universities (AIKCU) will work with a professional design firm to develop a new branding strategy, visual identity, and print and digital materials. With new leadership for the first time in 22 years, AIKCU anticipates that the new brand will serve as a cornerstone for all of its marketing, special events, presentations, and other communications.

Council of Independent Nebraska Colleges Foundation (CINCF) will create print materials for distribution to donors and prospective supporters as well as a sophisticated social media campaign designed to raise awareness of the significant economic impact that CINCF’s 13 member institutions have on the state of Nebraska. The project will build on an earlier grant that CIC made to CINCF to conduct an economic impact study.

Independent Colleges of Washington (ICW) will develop a digital marketing strategy that will include a strategic analysis and content library to extend ICW’s ability to share student stories via video, animated infographics, and social media. The project will help attract new funding partnerships, expand its commitment from legacy scholarship donors, and reduce ICW’s carbon footprint by moving its stories to paperless platforms.

Iowa College Foundation (ICF) will create three videos to showcase its member colleges and universities, their students, and the work of ICF. The videos are a response to changes in corporate funding channels and a need to engage donors in ways that supplement the foundation’s strong program of personal visits. The project aims to increase brand recognition, website traffic, and donor engagement.

Louisiana Independent College Foundation (LICF) will produce a suite of marketing materials to help LICF support a comprehensive fundraising strategy—a new initiative for Louisiana’s State Council. The grant will be used to develop a communications plan, printed materials, digital assets, and social media campaigns to help LICF tell the story of independent higher education and make a case for support of students enrolled at LICF institutions.

Ohio Foundation of Independent Colleges (OFIC) will produce an economic impact study that will quantify the contribution that OFIC’s 33 members contribute to the Ohio economy. OFIC will use the final report to strengthen its case for financial support of student scholarships and help its development staff connect with corporate concerns.

South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities (SCICU) will increase donor engagement through a series of regional events. With a 62-member board, SCICU seeks to create new opportunities for networking and meaningful conversations among donors and college presidents. These events will augment SCICU’s current schedule of two half-day meetings each year and increase understanding of the contributions and challenges of independent higher education in South Carolina.

Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges (VFIC) will hire a fundraising consulting firm to cultivate new philanthropic relationships. The firm will identify new prospective corporate donors and foundations that have indicated an interest in priorities identified by VFIC and help VFIC staff and trustees determine the most appropriate levels of engagement and an optimal schedule for submitting applications. The project will help VFIC’s already successful staff manage stewardship and reporting and effectively allocate resources.

West Virginia Independent Colleges and Universities (WVICU) will focus on digital marketing to expand its capacity to accept gifts. The project includes a new online giving portal, content updates to the WVICU website, student videos, graphics for use on social media, and paid placements on social media designed to increase awareness of private higher education in West Virginia and to attract new prospective donors.

For more information about CIC’s State Councils grant programs, visit the website or contact Carol Schuler at cschuler@cic.nche.edu.