Case Study

Lincoln University

Reinvigorating Lincoln’s Alumni & Development Office

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Tfa Case Study Lincoln Uni 1

Barrer & Co were contracted back into the organisation to help us meet our strategic fundraising goals and get us set up to do fundraising properly. We did go through an RFP process. What shone out about Barrer & Co was their New Zealand focus and their experience in the Canterbury market. We knew that we were getting the experts.


A renewed focus on fundraising

In mid-2018 Lincoln University asked Barrer & Co to help them create a fundraising strategy for their Alumni and Development Office.

The University has a strong, loyal alumni. In interviews, we discovered potential to activate this community as life-long supporters. Our research fed into a fundraising roadmap for their Alumni and Development team.

Subsequently, Lincoln entered a time of transformational change. Barrer & Co were engaged to help their Alumni and Development Office deliver the strategy.

Director of Student and Stakeholder Engagement, Kate Flower, recalls why the University reached out to us.

“We hadn’t really done any effective fundraising for some time. There had been some general annual appeal work, but using volunteers, so it wasn’t professionally done. We didn’t have the capability to deliver the University’s new focus on fundraising, so in 2019 the decision was made to look externally for that support."

Building a firm foundation

The University engaged us to deliver the fundraising strategy in September 2019.

Our goals were to help them recruit a Director of Development, then embed a culture of fundraising in the University, so they could move forward, ready to engage their community.

The project started with setting fundraising targets and priorities. A meeting with Lincoln University Foundation and University management established the most important fundraising tasks and informed messaging for their first annual appeal under the new plan.

We then recommended ways the Foundation structure could be improved to better manage gifting. This created the impetus for a new Foundation more aligned to the University’s future funding goals.

Other tasks included:

  • Development of policy and procedures.

  • Identifying potential revenue streams.

  • Supporting the internal team to get the most from their database. The University was implementing a new CRM to manage alumni and donors, so we helped them establish good processes and prepared it for mass mailouts.

  • Implementing internal systems, like receipting.

  • Establishing communication priorities and key messages.

It turned out to be a significant project for us, and we felt privileged to be able to implement best practice fundraising alongside the University and have our advice really listened to.
Kate agrees:

“I don’t think Barrer & Co realised how much they’d let themselves in for when they started working with us. Our systems and our processes needed review. That was a huge challenge for them. For example, we didn’t have records of important supporters. They had to do a significant amount of research and following cold trails before they could even start making a plan.”

Reengaging major donors

We also helped reengage major donors with the University. This wasn’t always straightforward.
Kate gives some context:

“We hadn’t really engaged with our key alumni and key donors for quite some time. And when Barrer & Co went out to talk to them, some of them were openly frustrated, to be frank. Because we’d ignored them. They felt left out. They didn’t know what was going on at Lincoln.
So, Barrer & Co had to win them over. They had to sell us back to our community. They had to have really honest conversations with both our supporters and the University. They helped us lay the foundation to rebuild those relationships.”

Setting up the annual appeal

Our final task was to build Lincoln’s 2020 annual appeal. This was their first appeal in four years. So, it was designed to be a clear roadmap for future appeals. Everything was written and ready to go. Marketing material had been designed. We had mail quotes. The database was clean.

The University were about to start recruiting a new team for the Alumni and Development Office, to run the appeal with our support. Then Covid-19 came along. Everything stopped. Kate explains:

“The University put a hold on all recruitment. We need those new people onboard to manage such a significant campaign. And we didn’t think it was the right time to be going out to our communities asking for money. So, we made the decision to put our 2020 appeal on hold.

“But we’re set up ready to go when we do need to go. Barrer & Co have provided us with policies, procedures, and templates. Their handover was amazing, files full of knowledge and processes. We feel well equipped to do everything ourselves.”

Tfa Case Study Lincoln University Google

Covering the spectrum from strategic to pragmatic

Kate sums up her experience of working with the Barrer & Co team.

“Barrer & Co have an ability to cover the strategic through to the very basics like data entry, that we found really helpful. They have a very strong team. They had some tricky situations to deal with and they were exceptionally good at dealing with them.

“On a personal note I found Sarah amazing. And I know that everyone who worked with her would say the same. She has a strategic yet very pragmatic and honest way of communicating, which we all appreciated.

“I used her as a source of advice. I found her very approachable. We would talk through something and I would feel confident in doing whatever she’d advised me to do. And when I couldn’t deal with something, she’d say, “I’ll sort it, leave it with me”.

Barrer & Co helped us come back from a sticky spot. We knew that we had a problem. We weren’t doing fundraising well, and we need to do it right. That’s why we called on Barrer & Co. Their level of professionalism was great. I can’t rate them highly enough.


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