Just asking: How and why Northwestern University established a system of fundraiser accountability metrics

Brock Silvey, Director of Prospect Research and Management, Northwestern University


In 2011 Northwestern University (NU) began to implement a system of fundraiser accountability metrics in response to the launch of its US$3.75bn campaign. Within three years, the establishment of this system catalysed a cultural change within the university’s development office. Emphasis moved away from visit and contact activity and towards solicitations, under the philosophy that focusing officers’ energies on making major gift asks was the most effective way of ensuring major gift commitments and dollars raised, and therefore campaign success. NU’s officers exhibited less territoriality and had a more energised approach to portfolio management. Senior leadership had access to concrete data about organisational and individual progress towards campaign goals, and NU’s development office set internal records for the number and amount of major gifts raised.


Keywords: fundraising, metrics, accountability, data, campaign

Brock Silvey is Director of Prospect Research and Management at Northwestern University and is responsible for strategically shaping all aspects of Northwestern’s prospect development function and partnering with the senior leadership of Northwestern’s Department of Alumni Relations and Development in implementing policies and processes that advance the university’s fundraising mission. Brock has spoken on research and prospect management related topics at APRA International, APRA Illinois chapter and CASE events. He recently served as chair of APRA International’s Education and Programming Committee and currently sits on its Body of Knowledge Committee. Brock’s writing has appeared in APRA Connections.

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