For more than 150 years, Niagara University has educated students in the Catholic and Vincentian tradition, emphasizing ethics, lifelong learning, and service to others. With a student body of over 3,000 undergraduates in 80 academic disciplines, Niagara University prepares its graduates for lives and careers that are both successful and fulfilling.

Having executed a highly successful campaign in 2012 that raised $80 million, Niagara approached Orr Group to help it prepare for its next campaign. With the proposed goal of $125 million, this campaign would be the largest fundraising effort ever pursued by the university, and its success would depend on securing very significant leadership gifts, while systematically and strategically expanding and engaging the major gift prospect pool.

Orr Group first conducted a four-month study to determine the feasibility of raising $125 million and the university’s readiness to launch a campaign. We developed a draft case for support which was tested with key donors and alumni, both to gauge interest in the campaign, and cultivate them as potential donors. Simultaneously, we assessed Niagara’s fundraising capabilities and the capacity of the advancement team.

From the initial study, we recommended several steps to help Niagara prepare for a successful campaign:

  • A methodical and strategic process to cultivate and recruit campaign leadership, engage high-capacity alumni and friends of the university, and qualify new major donors,
  • Refinement and finalizing of the campaign case for support based on feedback from key donors, alumni and internal stakeholders, and
  • Crucial capacity investments in the advancement team to ensure the successful implementation of a large fundraising effort.

Orr Group then partnered with Niagara to implement these recommendations, serving as the University’s campaign team and filling the roles of Campaign Director and Director of Major Gifts. In these roles, Orr Group is continuing to work alongside the advancement team to guide the direction of the campaign and implement sophisticated major gift strategies and processes to ensure a successful fundraising effort.

To complement the upcoming campaign, Niagara sought to strengthen and systematize its planned giving program. Orr Group partnered with Niagara to reevaluate motivators for planned giving, analyze and segment the university’s loyal donor base, and develop strategies to advance donors up the gift pyramid.

The outcome is an integrated and decentralized planned giving function. All gift officers now have a working knowledge of planned giving strategies in their lexicon of donor interactions. Through the development of innovative marketing approaches, more conversations surrounding legacy giving are occurring and more commitments are being formalized.

We are partnering with Niagara to undertake a systematic and strategic planned giving appeal to its loyal annual donors, helping the university to build on existing relationships and tap into new funds.