Fundraising has become standard practice in Finnish universities only after the 2010 reform of the Universities Act, whereas, for example, in U.S. universities the tradition goes back about 400 years.
The success of fundraising campaigns is said to be based on the three R’s: Rectors, Resources and Reports. Fundraising is a strategic task, and the members of the top management are the public face of a university and speak on its behalf. Universities foster their alumni relations as part of the long-term development of fundraising.
Our fundraising activities have the best chance of success, when they are integrated into the operational culture of Tampere3. The Tampere3 community is working to create a shared partnerships platform, as our strategic partners may hold multiple roles as donors, alumni, co-developers participating in R&D projects, or as customers of our professional development programmes. There is still work to be done, but the goal is a seamless and inspirational customer experience.
Fundraising is investment business, and the results are directly proportional to the investment. It is important to ensure continuous dialogue with foundations, organizations, companies and major individual donors. When our existing relationships are closely fostered, fundraising becomes a case of people donating to people. It takes marketing efforts, multichannel communications as well as sales and PR expertise. Fundraising requires a strong brand story that is connected to the cultural capital of Tampere and highlights the aspects that make Tampere a special place for residents, students and scholars.
Finnish universities have developed their fundraising activities during national campaigns where the government has matched private donations at a specific ratio. The latest of such campaigns ended in late 2017, with the University of Tampere (UTA) and Tampere University of Technology (TUT) raising a total of 10 million euros and receiving 11.4 million euros towards their capital in accordance with the government pledge. Legislative amendments passed this autumn offered universities of applied sciences the opportunity to launch their first fundraising campaigns. Tampere University of Applied Sciences (TAMK) is now at the threshold of its first yearlong campaign. UTA, TUT and TAMK are set to continue their separate fundraising activities until the end of 2018. The process of planning and developing Tampere3-wide fundraising from 2019 onwards is currently underway.
My initial experiences have demonstrated that many of our donors want to be involved in building the new higher education community and are now more interested than ever in supporting multidisciplinary activities. It is great that donations of 850 euros or more, which are made to the higher education institutions by communities or private individuals, are tax deductible. The strong existing partnerships of the two universities and TAMK provide a solid foundation for building a new culture of fundraising. Tampere3 opens the door to exciting new opportunities.
Päivi Myllykangas is the director of stakeholder relations at the University of Tampere. She serves as the chairperson of the Tampere3 Fundraising Committee that is working to build long-term partnerships.