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Community College Foundations

Background

Public community colleges face new and specific challenges when seeking to raise private funds for the benefit of the students they serve. A public college’s Foundation provides crucial financial support for scholarships, facility improvements and enhancements, real estate transactions, intercollegiate athletics and events. Through their fundraising and entrepreneurial efforts, Foundation boards can have a major impact on important institutions that shape the lives of millions and are vital to America's economic future.

“We are living through a seismic shift in the funding of public higher education. For some institutions, revenue from private support now outstrips state support. Foundations, once focused on funding a margin of excellence, have become vital partners in the advancement, advocacy, and entrepreneurial ventures of their affiliated institutions.” 1

Specific challenges facing community college Foundations:

  1. The changing face of higher education
  2. Increased demands for accountability, transparency
  3. Heightened scrutiny of all activities in public colleges/universities
  4. External forces focused on metrics unrelated to educational quality
  5. External policy efforts aimed at regulating institutions of higher education.
  6. Years of flagging state support; crumbling state-owned facilities and infrastructure
  7. Public and legislative pressure to keep tuition down, and maintain affordable public education
  8. Higher levels of student debt
  9. Focus on employment rates and salaries of graduates
  10. Heightened scrutiny of accreditation processes

With the pace and pressure of such changes in the role of Foundations supporting community colleges, many Foundation boards are not adequately positioned to take on this heightened responsibility. A focus on enhanced board engagement, tighter alignment with the institution, expanded financial and entrepreneurial talent base among members, and planning Foundation work strategically will become higher priorities for many Foundation boards.

The staff at Fuquay Solutions has the experience and expertise to assist North Carolina Community College in facing these challenges.  This team includes Kennon Briggs, former Executive Vice President & Chief of Staff with NC Community College System; Rob Nelson, former Vice President for Finance with UNC General Administration; and Christine Riley, former Chief of Staff with UNC Asheville.  These three individuals have a combined 94 years of experience helping North Carolina institutions of higher education (community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, private & public), Fuquay Solutions can focus on the specific needs of each institution in several key areas:

Forensic Analysis:

After gathering an understanding of the needs of the campus leadership, Fuquay Solutions staff can review all governance issues, identify potential governance risks, and recommend appropriate steps to improve Foundation compliance, planning, decision-making and alignment with the Board of Trustees and college president. The first and most important step in meeting the heightened challenges that all Foundations are facing must be an honest assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the organization itself.

Very often, changes in Trustee, Foundation and/or Presidential leadership afford a college an opportunity to take a fresh look at the governance, financial management, policies, reporting and procedures of the Foundation.

The Fuquay Solutions team is also adept at mapping out a corrective action plan and implementing some or the entire plan, depending on the needs of the host institution.  These corrective actions generally fall into a few categories:

Governance Issues:

  1. Assure alignment with North Carolina General Statutes relating to institutionally-related Foundations.
  2. Assure the Foundation’s alignment with  501c(3) provisions, Board of Trustees, college president, and the identified needs of the  college.
  3. Clarify the role and purpose of the institutionally-related Foundation through improvement of all governance documents [Articles of Incorporation, written agreement with Board of Trustees, Bylaws, Policies, etc.].
  4. Assure improved shared decision-making between Foundations and Institutions by clarifying lines of authority in both the foundation and the host institution.

Strategic Planning:

  1. Create a strong and transparent planning process to reduce conflict between the Foundation and the Institution.
  2. Implement a well-documented plan that explicitly explains Foundation responsibilities and expectations.

Management:

  1. Increase fundraising capacity by building and strengthening the board of institutionally related Foundations.
  2. Prepare the Foundation to step into a more active role in raising and giving money to their institutions.

Policies:

  1. Assure that all policies are in alignment with the Foundation’s bylaws and best practices in the field of advancement.
  2. Recommend and/or develop policies where needed.

Operations:

  1. Align the work of the Foundation Board with the College’s Advancement function.
  2. Assist the Foundation with efforts to determine the relative efficiency of fundraising efforts, such as determining the cost of raising a dollar.

The Fuquay Solutions team delivers results for its clients. A recent assignment resulted in a higher degree of confidence in Foundation operations with the Board of Trustees, the Foundation Board of Directors, donors and financial examiners, alignment with accreditation requirements, improved compliance with state laws and procedures, and a better working relationship between the two  boards.

“Last year, Cape Fear Community College needed an outside objective analysis of the business practices and processes of our Foundation.  Fuquay Solutions assembled a diverse team of experts who took a deep dive into our processes.  They conducted interviews, analyzed documentation, and reviewed policies.  They were thorough in their analysis and produced a report of their findings.  We subsequently asked them to remain on the job to assist in the implementation of their recommendations.  Through the professionalism of the team, this process was executed in a timely and efficient manner.  The ability of the team members to establish a rapport with the college staff and Board members proved to be invaluable as we moved forward.  It is with great confidence that I recommend Fuquay Solutions for their consultative expertise in higher education.”

Amanda Lee, President

Cape Fear Community College

July 2016

1 “Forward-Looking Foundations,” David Bass, AGB.org, February 23, 2016. http://agb.org/blog/2016/02/23/forward-looking-foundations

 


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