Founded in 1967, Blue Ridge Community College serves the residents of the central Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. It offers comprehensive programs of instruction including associate degrees, diplomas and certificates in occupational/technical and college/university transfer programs, as well as non-credit workforce training and special interest classes. When BRCC first approached The Curtis Group, they already had a lot going for them: a history of successful campaigns, a successful annual fund, experienced advancement staff, a president who was well respected in their community and flourishing programs. They were ready for a new campaign—focused on workforce and economic development, increasing access and student support, and capital enhancements. The challenge was how to take their fundraising to the next level.
We started by conducting a campaign planning study, which pointed to a fundraising goal of $5.5-$6 million in cash and pledges, plus a $2 million planned-giving goal. In addition to a strong staff, BRCC had excellent leadership and strong relationships with the community, so we helped them capitalize on these assets. We trained the staff, volunteers and president on how to meet with donors, and we sat down in person with the Campaign Leadership Committee monthly to keep everyone on task and on track. They seemed to benefit specifically from our coaching prior to donor visits. In addition to their campaign, we helped them tweak their strategy and increased what they raised in annual fund dollars. We continued to emphasize best practices that they could use long after the campaign ended.
As our original engagement drew to a close, BRCC decided to extend our engagement for continued strategy and guidance. As a result, BRCC raised $500,000 beyond their original $8 million goal—which they revealed to much fanfare at their campaign celebration in early 2017:
“Our strong partnership with The Curtis Group resulted in the most successful fundraising effort in BRCC history! They always made us feel like we were their only client (and yet I certainly know that wasn’t the case!). Wendy and Victoria are consummate professionals, but with warm and fun personalities that kept our large group of volunteers coming back to meetings month after month. They were prompt, positive and had great attention to detail. We hired them to help us with our campaign, but they did so much more—it’s clear they cared about BRCC and wanted us to be successful in every aspect of our work. The Curtis Group has a wealth of experience across many different sectors, and they certainly know community colleges well. They tailored their work to our unique needs.” – Amy Kiger, Executive Director, BRCC