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University of Cambridge Colleges

Case Study
Fundraising Assessment College Benchmarking

As part of the College Development Directors’ Committee (CDDC) ‘Investing for Success’ initiative, Halpin was commissioned to work with them to provide independent research and analysis. Our work with the Cambridge Colleges explored the relationship between the investment in time, money, people and activities, and fundraising. We analysed the available fundraising data and listened to feedback from staff through a survey, interviews, focus groups and whiteboards. We gathered our findings under three main headings – Fundraising Performance, Culture & Communications, and Talent & Resources – as these were the main challenges faced by colleges as they fundraise.

Our brief:

  • To analyse the resourcing of Colleges’ Development and Alumni Relations Offices (DAROs), the relationship and correlations between the investment of time, money, people and activities on fundraising, and to make recommendations,
  • To assess, through the scope of this project, the success of the Development Programme Accelerator Fund (DPAF),
  • To provide information and guidance that would underpin planning and decision making, therefore better enabling Colleges to direct their efforts for success – be it an established and stable staff DARO team, a dynamic alumni and annual fund programme, or a seismic shift in long-term capital fundraising campaigns.


  • Desk review and data analysis, primarily of nine years of Annual Development Questionnaire (ADQ) data, alongside DPAF data shared,
  • Staff survey shared with all development and alumni staff across the Colleges – 40 participants,
  • Focus groups separated between staff (17 participants) and Development Directors (5 participants),
  • Interviews with 16 Development Directors, 5 Bursars and with the Head of Office of Intercollegiate Services,
  • Online whiteboards for staff to share opinions and experiences anonymously – over 40 posts made across the two whiteboards,
  • Recruitment profiling,
  • A series of 31 Key Findings, 7 Priority Recommendations, 24 Recommendations and 19 Suggestions to take forward, along with implementation advice and EDI considerations.