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How Data Impacts Fundraising at Clemson University

How Data Impacts Fundraising at Clemson University


– Hi, Tim Hill with Blackbaud, and I’m here with Dr. Jim
Clements, the president of Clemson University,
and we’re at the historic Chicago Athletic Association,
and this historic building on Michigan Avenue,
downtown Chicago, was founded in 1890, and Clemson
University was founded in 1889. – That’s awesome, I didn’t realize that. – There’s a lot of history shared here. – That’s great, I know we’re
1889, I didn’t know 1890. – 1890, right here, yeah,
so we held our higher-ed executive summit with
senior executives from Advancement Alumni Engagement,
and foundations here, and they’re kind of the
backbone of universities to kinda keep the
university’s mission alive by raising those funds from
alumni and other constituents. And Dr. Clements was our keynote speaker, and it’s really awesome
to have you here today. – Great to be with you Tim,
I appreciate the opportunity to encourage those in the
audience about the importance of fundraising and how it
changes people’s lives. – And that’s exactly what
we wanna talk to you about. So you’re the 15th president
of Clemson University, has been there for five
years, prior to Clemson was president for five years
at West Virginia University, and a couple of interesting
hallmarks for Dr. Clements, at the two universities in his tenure, over 1.4 billion dollars were
raised by the universities under your presidencies,
which rank you as only one of 20 current college
presidents to raise more than a billion dollars,
pretty impressive stat. – It’s all about teamwork, I’ve
had great people around me. But I’m happy that I’m part of that. – Absolutely, so we’re
just gonna dive into some quick questions here, so
discuss kinda your opinion on the importance of
philanthropy, especially in a public university, and what is the president’s role in that? – Look, we know that funding
for public universities across the country, the
state funding has decreased, and probably gonna continue
to decrease, so the reliance on private funds has become
more and more important. So in my 10 years as a
university president, I spent a crazy amount of time
trying to sell the story of the value of education,
how it changes lives and to get people to
invest in my institutions and our students, and it’s important. And it all comes down to having
impact, making a difference. You mentioned 1.4 billion,
we all know it’s not about the number, it’s about
the lives that are changed through those funds, so you know I’m happy to play my part with my
team and my university, trying to raise those funds to have an impact on our students. – Yeah, so Clemson is
obviously well-known for their academic prowess, for
their research, being a land-grant university,
all the things you give back to the communities
you’re involved in, it also helps to have a
winning sports team, or teams across the campus, which
you’ve had, really across all the sports, men and
women, does that kinda help your journey as chief fundraiser? – Absolutely, and I’m gonna
brag just a little bit cause you’re giving me
the opportunity, last year we were the only university
in the country that had football reach the
college football playoffs, men’s basketball sweet
16, and a baseball team that hosted the regional,
only one in the country, we also were the only one in the country that had those same
three sports, football, men’s basketball, and baseball
get NCA academic awards, only one in the country,
that gives me a platform to talk about the value of
the institution, our great academics, our great athletics,
our great student life, so it gives me massive
opportunities to invite people to football games,
to get ’em excited about what we’re doing across
all sports, while helping the academic side of the house. – So you’re a data guy, it’s
part of your background, part of your education, how
does Clemson leverage data to fundraise? – Have to have it, have to have it. So for me, I need to kinda
know as much as I can about an organization, a person,
what they like to give to, what they give it to,
what their net worth is, how we can use that data
throughout the entire process, how my team can use it, what role I play, data for us is, it comes down
to data and relationships, right, so you gotta
have the relationships, but the data is critical to us. So my team, I’ve pushed them
really hard in my five years, I need research and I need data, it makes me better at what I do. – So the other thing you
mentioned in your keynote, which you don’t always
hear university presidents talk about, is the
building of relationships, so I know you leverage your
advancement and development and marketing communications
teams to help you do that, how does the relationship-building,
regardless of where it starts, how does it help
the institution raise money? – Well hey look, that’s
the fun part of the job. Being with people, having
dinners with them, playing golf with them, building real friendships, critical to what we do. You team that with the
data, and then you’ve got a great opportunity, so
it’s my job to make as many friends as I can, to sell
the vision, to talk about the impact, to talk about
our strategic plan, and to get them to invest in what
invest, but the relationships are really important to me,
a teammate could be golfing with somebody, having
dinner, drinks with somebody, y’know taking their kid
down onto the field, all of those things make a big difference. – How do you position the
Clemson brand to help, really enrich what you
can do in fundraising by putting your best foot forward? – Well, you talked
earlier about athletics, so one thing athletics gives
us a national presence, everyone knows Clemson
football, Clemson basketball, the Tiger Paw, games at Death Valley, it allows me to promote
many, many other things about our mission, academics,
research, economic prosperity, but for us it’s, Tim, it’s
always about building the team, being on a mission
together to change lives. The fundraising side, the
data side, getting support from the external side to help
our students is ultimately what makes a big difference. – Well congrats on your success
as university president, the success of Clemson the
institution, as well as the impact on your constituents,
whether they be alumni, or business owners, or just
fans of the university. – Well I appreciate you
saying that, and same to Blackbaud who makes an
incredible difference worldwide with what you do, so I appreciate it Tim. – Thank you so much, Jim. – Thank you, sir. – Appreciate it. – Go Tigers.

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