Saint Mary’s University has a record of excellent fiscal management. We have stayed on budget while delivering excellent programs and services to students and we have done this consistently throughout our history. We have always proven ourselves to be a nimble, well run, and innovative university.
Saint Mary’s has a solid reputation as one of Canada’s most accessible universities and a demonstrated track record of leveling the playing field for disadvantaged youth. We have gone the extra mile not only in admitting students who might traditionally be left behind but also in supporting them fully once they arrive on campus. While maintaining this commitment, we must continually assess our policies and practices to ensure that we are not compromising the quality of education we can afford to offer.
Saint Mary’s University needs to be financially sustainable and this will involve the rebalancing of resources. We have an obligation to our current and future students, faculty, staff, and alumni to put our resources to work to support our mission and goals. We need to put ourselves in a position to support and make investments in new initiatives and programs. Saint Mary’s is seen as an innovative and relevant University, and this must remain our position.
In the future we will focus more on friend-raising and fundraising, on engaging our external benefactors, our internal community, and our alumni, encouraging them to give back to our university with its 200 year-old history of providing value and values. Our plan is to increase the revenue stream from more engaged alumni and donors. Our success will depend on how well we engage and serve these important stakeholder groups. So, what are our next steps?
During the President's consultation sessions in October and November 2015, these questions were posed to the participants:
- Our plan is to increase the revenue stream from more engaged alumni and donors.
- Where should these funds be allocated? How should we use them strategically?
Key themes and ideas
- Invest in alumni staff
- Help graduates with the transition into their career - create more engaged alumni and therefore more engaged donors
- Create more events and activities to bring alumni back to campus
- Create the opportunity for alumni to give input – how do they want to give back? What do they want to donate to?
- Place emphasis on the graduating class being a proud unit or group - create a method of continued communication
- Foster alumni engagement – it is critical
- There are alumni in 110 countries – create more events worldwide
- Increase number of students at the call centre who engage with donors
Customize Opportunities to Give Back to the University
- Identify areas of priority and customize ask to donors
- Create targeted scholarships to particular communities where donors reside
- Highlight socially worthy causes and project-focused requests in alumni newsletter
- Named speaker series on issues of broader community interests
- Create brand recognition that is attractive to donors
- Invest in vulnerable populations or subject areas
- Offer incentives to donors – for example, invitations to special events
- Invest in more fundraising opportunities
- Have students involved in fundraising
- Define value proposition and invest significantly in the way we fundraise
- Strategic plan needs hard fundraising targets in place
- Set up fund for small donations
- Engage students before they graduate
- Full funding for students from developing countries
- Recognition for small and/or cumulative donors
- Programs to help students with local businesses
- Provide evidence that donations really will have impact in a way that resonates with donors
- Help the alumni understand why they should give
- Offer online recognition for donors
- Data Drive: track alumni and follow them with the “ask”
- More opportunities to engage online - website should be more interactive and informative
- Publish online how funds are being used – transparency