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Research Unravels What Makes Colleges 'Million Dollar Ready'

Less than a third of American colleges managed to attract individual donations of $1-million or more from 2000 to 2012, leaving the other two-thirds to wonder: What is their secret? According to a study released on Tuesday, a number of factors influence an institution’s chances of landing a big gift, including presidential tenure, the student experience, and the philanthropic example that its board members set. Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and the fund-raising consulting company Johnson Grossnickle and Associates collaborated on a report on the study, ”Million Dollar Ready: Assessing the Institutional Factors That Lead to Transformational Gifts.” Rather than looking at what causes donors to give, the researchers tried to identify what characteristics make an institution more likely to attract major gifts—to be “million-dollar ready.” The researchers analyzed 1,449 institutions that had received past gifts of $1-million or above, then correlated their findings with information available in several higher-education databases. In the second phase of the research, they performed case studies of three universities that have enjoyed success in attracting million-dollar gifts: Arizona State University, DePauw University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The Chronicle of Higher Education

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