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For Deans and Leadership

Role of Deans in the Development Process

Fundraising is a team effort at Vanderbilt. While Foundation Relations will support, coordinate and instigate interactions with foundations - the endorsement, support and cooperation of colleagues throughout the university is essential in building a successful development practice.

In particular, the support from academic leadership adds credibility to a proposal. You speak from positions of expertise, and communicating your passion and enthusiasm can motivate foundations and corporations to fund our proposals. The Corporate and Foundation Relations team will assist leaders and faculty to develop the skills necessary to interact with foundations by providing them training, information and personal support. Our goal is to make it as easy as possible for you to be involved in the development process. Additionally, our team will take responsibility for administrative or organizational activities to ensure that leaders receive informative briefings before, and prompt feedback following, prospect meetings.

Prospect Identification for Deans 

Both faculty and academic leadership should become accustomed to identifying development opportunities from the people and alumni they meet during the course of their work and through their personal and professional networks (ex. conferences). It is very helpful to share any corporate or foundation connections with the Corporate and Foundation Relations team.

Prospect Cultivation for Deans 

During the cultivation phase, academic leadership can support development efforts by engaging a foundation prospect in Vanderbilt's work. This can be done by meeting a program officer or other foundation representative to discuss a research project, written and/or oral communication, and site visits. In order to ensure the most comprehensive and collaborative strategy, the Corporate and Foundation Relations team should be brought into internal conversations prior to contact with the Foundation.

Prospect Solicitation for Deans 

The solicitation stage is where a strong working relationship between a dean or other academic leader, with the assistance of the development officer, and a foundation can be most beneficial. Often times, an institutional endorsement, or letter of support, is required for proposal submission. The more personal this is, the more credibility it will add to the proposal. The Corporate and Foundation Relations team is happy to assist in preparing the draft, and coordinating with your office for review and signature.

Prospect Stewardship for Deans 

Academic leaders are vital to a successful stewardship program, as they have a direct link to the projects that are benefiting from a foundations gift and can offer feedback with credibility and sincerity.
It is key to remember a well-stewarded foundation will retain a positive outlook of Vanderbilt and is more likely to give larger or more frequent grants as well as maintain a relationship with Vanderbilt for a long period of time. Stewardship guidelines will help manage the expectations of foundations and the time of the leaders involved. These guidelines will help ensure that levels of stewardship are appropriate to levels of giving. Leaders and academics are encouraged to thank foundations at their discretion. Foundation Relations, along with the Office of Stewardship, has guidelines in place for gift acknowledgement from Vanderbilt leadership (Chancellor, Provost, etc.).