With A Little Help From My Friends: Essential Lessons for Fundraising

Katja Bär from #EUPRIO17 host University of Mannheim

Katja Barbara Bär (Germany)

Katja Barbara Bär is Director of Communications & Fundraising at the University of Mannheim. Her career in development in universities spans almost 20 years. While a PhD Student in the history of scholarship, she started working as coordinator of the 100th anniversary celebrations of Mannheim University. Her early fundraising experience as a volunteer in Cambridge, where she studied Classics in 1998, helped her to serve in Mannheim’s first fundraising campaign. During the campaign the University won several national awards for its public relations, fundraising and alumni management. As Director Katja established a university foundation with a mission to improve quality and leadership in the University’s fundraising. The major giving campaign under her leadership was awarded the first German Universities Fundraising Award in 2016.

The inauguration of a new President can be a turning point for a University to change its structures and long term vision. When it comes to fundraising this can be a challenge even for a University with a sustainable long term strategy. When, in 2013, a new President was elected at the University of Mannheim, the institution could look back on a successful fundraising campaign which had enabled the renovation of lecture rooms and the enormous palace at the centre of its campus; a campaign called ‘Renaissance of the Baroque Palace’ had raised 13 million euros in 10 years. It had established several scholarships, research projects and endowed chairs; moreover, the campaign had helped to develop a corporate identity and it had helped to strengthen the bonds with alumni and many others. The institution was ready for fundraising. But was it ready for an ambitious president whose vision was to raise € 100 million in ten years? And was there a danger that a previously successful campaign could negatively affect a new campaign?

This session will demonstrate how a new capital campaign was started without a budget and only with the help of volunteers; how after 3 years and still in the silent phase of the campaign, more than € 17 Million has been raised, enabling the University to build a new research institute, foster a new Masters programme and establish a new social scholarship… and how finally a budget was identified to start a more realistic capital campaign. Katja will cover what is really needed to start a campaign and what Mannheim has learned from 20 years experience of fundraising.