University of Luxembourg

University of Luxembourg

Exploring the role of philanthropy in the University’s future

Since its founding in 2003, the University of Luxembourg has been rising through the ranks at impressive pace. With 7,000 students and 300 professors from 135 countries, this multilingual, international and research-oriented university ranks #25 in the world for a young university and #4 in the world for international outlook. The University of Luxembourg and its people are critical partners in shaping scientific, political and public life in Luxembourg and beyond. But generous state funding to date has led to significant untapped potential to grow philanthropic support.

The brief
“With our 20th anniversary approaching, there were conversations about whether we could launch the University of Luxembourg’s first comprehensive fundraising campaign,” says Ken Fukino, Senior Advisor at the University. “While the idea was exciting, we knew we’d need the groundwork in place to deliver one effectively”. The University set out to find a partner to undertake a feasibility and readiness study, to determine the next steps towards campaign readiness for the institution. To answer that question, More assembled a team of Ian Edwards, Maarten Vervaat and Laura Phipps, to bring together a wealth of experience of higher education fundraising across Europe.

“What impressed us most was More’s approach,” Ken explains. “They came into the room and said ‘let’s talk…’ and from there we established a really open and natural connection. More also has diversity of language and culture, which really resonated with the University’s own values and culture.”

Assessing the culture
The first step for More was to get under the skin of this new, but ambitious, university. “We wanted to understand the barriers and opportunities for philanthropy and to assess how established a philanthropic culture was within the institution,” explains More Partner, Laura Phipps.

To do that, the More team spoke to 26 internal stakeholders, as well as digging into the fundraising data over the past few years. For Ken, the interviews were a critical part of the study: “It gave space to listen to each individual and sense how well they were primed to support a campaign. It also stirred up useful conversations and areas of ambiguity around philanthropy within our community. As a process, I think it helped to open people’s eyes to their own roles in philanthropy – you can’t sit on the sidelines in a campaign.”

Crafting the story
Fundraising at the University to date had been opportunistic, based on emerging needs of academics who were in contact with the fundraising office or vice versa. “For a comprehensive campaign”, explains Laura, “we needed to help the University think more strategically about its priority fundraising propositions and how they fitted into a wider narrative about Luxembourg, its ambitions as a nation and the university’s role in delivering them over the next decade.” That involved a half-day in-person workshop with 26 leaders and academics, drawing out key areas of ambition from the University’s strategy that would benefit most from philanthropic support.

“The workshop was crucial because we would never have brought this group together otherwise,” Ken told us. “It was a way to get people moving in the same direction, clarify the benefits of philanthropy and enable people across the University to feel part of a future campaign.”

From there, the More team developed a case for support for the University to test with donors in a feasibility study.

Exploring donor appetite
Ian, Maarten and Laura interviewed 31 donors, prospects and influencers online and in person, exploring their views of the university, response to the case for support and willingness to support a future fundraising campaign. “There wasn’t always universal support for a university in Luxembourg and it’s a country where networks are tight-knit and powerful,” explains Ken, “so it was important for us to have key influencers within the country on our interview list. That breadth allowed us to understand not only people’s willingness and motivations to give to the University but wider perceptions on our role in the country.”

The results of the study were shared with the fundraising team and the Rector at the University, along with a series of conclusions and detailed recommendations. These were presented to the University’s Management team, with More Partner Maarten Vervaat attending a Senior Management retreat to further strengthen senior-level buy-in for philanthropy.

“Our collaboration with More has reaffirmed the importance of philanthropy at the University of Luxembourg,” Ken emphasises. “It has galvanised leadership support and made fundraising a top institutional priority. With their expertise and professionalism, I highly recommend More.”

To find out more about the bespoke support we could provide your organisation, contact us on info@morepartnership.com or 01382 224730.