Donor relationships crucial to new VP


When Vice President for Development Inge Reichenbach departs Yale in June 2012, her successor will have a long list of tasks to complete before the next fundraising campaign begins.

Though the University concluded its $3.88 billion Yale Tomorrow development campaign in June, administrators are already looking forward to the next campaign that will begin in two to five years under Reichenbach’s successor. But before that project can get underway, Levin said the University’s new vice president for development will need to develop relationships with Yale donors and faculty — something Reichenbach has often described as critical to successful fundraising.

Cultivating relationships with administrators, deans, donors and volunteers requires earning trust over time, and is the Office of Development’s most important job, Reichenbach said, adding that there is no “textbook approach” to this task.

“You have to be the one who initiates things, who seeks opportunity. After time, these things multiply and then suddenly, you find yourself with a network,” she said, “When you are genuinely interested in people, genuinely interested in learning what they care about, the job is not a challenge — the job is a joy.”

Several major donors and Yale Tomorrow officials praised Reichenbach’s ability to form close personal relationships with the University’s benefactors. John Jackson ’67, who donated $50 million to found the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, said he was impressed with both Reichenbach’s “warm, friendly and caring” personality and her attention to detail.

Though administrators and members of the Office of Development have largely attributed the unprecedented success of Yale Tomorrow — which launched publicly one year after Reichenbach arrived at Yale in 2005 — to her leadership, she noted that donors do not only have relations with the vice president for development but also with the University and other development staff. These connections will help ensure that the donor relationships formed during the five-year Yale Tomorrow campaign continue after her departure, Reichenbach said.

“Yes, we have the personal relationships, but they are also relationships with the University,” Reichenbach said. “Our job is to bring individuals into the life of the University, so we always try to connect our donors and our friends with as many other people at the University as possible, so they have a real fabric of relationships.”

Before planning the next campaign, Reichenbach’s successor will also need to focus on several fundraising priorities that were not fully addressed during Yale Tomorrow, University President Richard Levin said. Those priorities include fundraising for five major building projects that were frozen when the recession hit in 2008: the new residential colleges, new science teaching laboratories, the biology building, a new home for the School of Drama and renovations to Hendrie Hall.

Only $180 million has been raised for the colleges so far — a project that will cost Yale an estimated $500 million. Levin said the University could break ground on the new colleges as early as 2015.

Given the huge scope of projects and organizations that the Office of Development handles, Levin said Reichenbach’s successor will need to take time learning how each organization functions and what its specific fundraising needs are.

“This is a complicated, highly decentralized place with a college, the graduate school, a dozen professional schools, a great library, three distinguished museums, dozens of research centers and many community outreach programs,” Levin said.

Reichenbach said the best way Yale could help the next vice president for development adjust to the post would be introducing the new person immediately to University leaders.

Yale Tomorrow publicly launched on Sept. 30, 2006 and concluded June 30.

Comments