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‘But I Hate Asking for Money . . .’:
Development Tips for Academic Administrators
Buller, Jeffrey L. “‘But I Hate Asking for Money . . .’: Development Tips for Academic Administrators.” Academic Leader, 23(8)
(August 2007). Reprinted with permission from Magna Publications, Inc.
Despite the widespread expectation that academic leaders participate in fundraising at their institutions,
many administrators feel poorly prepared for development work. After all, they rose to their positions
because of their success as teachers and scholars, their record of good management skills, and their ability
to mix attention to details with an appreciation for the “big picture” of an institution’s needs. They often
feel uncomfortable being placed in a position where, they presume, they will need to go “cap in hand” to
solicit funds from donors who may not be all that willing to provide them. In candid conversations, many
administrators will rank “asking a donor for money” second only to “firing someone” as their least
favorite task. Is there any way, then, to make this activity less unpalatable for people who don’t enjoy
development activities? What do you need to know about fundraising if the idea of asking people for
money makes you nervous or uncomfortable?
Development involves much more than simply asking people for money. The first step is to realize
that although we often use the terms “development” and “fundraising” as though they were identical, they
really aren’t. Development involves a wide range of activities that create closer ties between individuals
and an institution. Sometimes those ties are forged by financial contributions, but many times they are
not. If you do not feel that you can effectively solicit others for funds, it might be possible for you to play
an active role in development efforts in other ways.
Certainly, you are in an excellent position to discuss the strengths, vision, and needs of your
individual area. Perhaps you can f