University of Oxford
A long-term, annual benchmarking project for the collective colleges of the University of Oxford – with a major impact on their individual fundraising capabilities
The University of Oxford needs no introduction as an academic brand – or as a pioneer of higher-education fundraising in the UK.
Oxford’s distinctive collegiate structure is a major asset but also a managerial challenge. Hence the idea of benchmarking fundraising in Oxford colleges, initiated by a far-sighted donor. Today, the annual survey, run by More Partnership since it started, is an institution within an institution.
2000 to 2010
Christine Jeffery, Director of Development Services in the University’s central development office, explains:
“What started in 2000 as a survey of 13 colleges became an annual project involving all 38. In essence, this enabled them to develop best practice by comparison to each other – and to realise their fundraising potential.
“The questions ranged from the obvious (“How much money have you raised?”) to the more subtle (“How is your office structured?”). They changed over the years as the colleges’ interests and needs shifted. After a while, the colleges were also divided into comparable groups, so that they could make realistic comparisons. The same donor continued to fund the survey. And More Partnership still supplied the expert, objective, external analysis, in addition to mentorship and training.
“As well as deep knowledge and understanding, the firm provided a huge sense of continuity. The report always struck the right balance in that the feedback was always constructive and the long-term trends emerged from the day-to-day detail.
“The practical benefits have been immense. College development directors used the data to lobby for new resources. The central development office used it to complete the annual Ross CASE Survey. And the same figures helped us to measure the impact of our current ‘Oxford Thinking’ campaign. In fact, it’s hard to imagine life without the data from More Partnership’s benchmarking.”
What happened next
A More Partnership study in 2012 informed the extension of the Oxford Thinking campaign. Since then, we have also worked with the central development office on another review, as well as individual Oxford colleges, departments and museums on a variety of projects.