Leading a new major giving team during a pandemic

In September 2019, Peridot Partners worked with London Business School (LBS) to recruit two Senior Development Leads to join the Advancement Team before the start of 2020. These transformational major gifts fundraising roles were created to deliver on LBS’s next substantial fundraising campaign.

James Hunt, Peridot’s Head of Membership & Development, recently spoke with Crys Whitewoods, Director of Giving at LBS, to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing the new team in 2020 and beyond.

Diversifying fundraising income

Following a strategic realignment, the new Giving team was formed as part of the wider Advancement function at LBS. The aim was to secure income from people at a range of levels by building strong and lasting relationships with their alumni and external donors. The Senior Development Leads were created to focus on securing six and seven figure restricted and unrestricted gifts to help develop a more sustainable funding base.

“Subject to a review about 18 months ago, I identified that in order to not only grow our income but to ensure that this growth was sustainable for the future, that we needed to diversify our income,” Crys explains.

“LBS has an incredible track record of developing relationships and securing income with ultra high-net-worth individuals but there was a need to increase giving at the upper end of Major Gifts, as well as from reoccurring givers at the Leadership Annual Giving Level. With this in mind, we recognised that we needed additional resource in these areas.”

Peridot recruited both positions and also placed an additional Development Manager focusing on Leadership Annual Giving.

Getting to know the organisation and building strong internal and external partnerships

Crys has been delighted with his new team members and is proud at how well they have bedded into the organisation during a very challenging time. All three appointed candidates have quickly developed a deep knowledge of the organisation and have already made strong relationships internally and externally, and importantly are now highly respected members of the broader team.

“I am very excited to start working with them and seeing them go from strength to strength,” Crys said.

How Covid-19 impacted the team’s delivery

Like every organisation, the global pandemic has affected LBS. Initially, it was more challenging to maintain the sense of team and connectivity when working remotely and placed added demands on people’s time and ability to juggle the work-life balance.

“I have been hugely impressed with the School and our ability to quickly pivot, whether through Hybrid learning for our students or virtual events and engagement opportunities for our Alumni,” explained Crys.

“Our giving community have responded incredibly well and have been so supportive of the School’s future ambition.”

The team are as engaged as ever and are thinking more creatively and ambitiously about how they can develop and maintain relationships with their global community moving forward.

For most of their appointments, Crys’ team were taking on new roles and portfolios. This was not without challenges. During the pandemic they cannot meet with prospects and develop rapport which is so much easier when engaging face-to-face.

Crys was very optimistic: “That said, all three appointments have worked creatively with colleagues, staff and Faculty from across the School to identify ways to overcome these challenges.

“As a result, they are well on their way to achieving their income targets for 2020/21 and to developing robust pipelines for their future years working at the School.”

What have you learned from this year and what does the immediate and long-term future look like?

Crys shared his insight into the challenges of the year but spoke positively about the learning gained from it and was optimistic for the year ahead.

“I am a firm believer that with adversity, comes opportunity. Past global recessions and crisis have encouraged organisations to think in a different way and those who have been agile and remove the obstacles to change have excelled,” he explained.

LBS is well placed to meet the challenges of the future and has a clear vision and strategic objectives which filter down throughout the whole School.

He added: “Of course, there have and will continue to be challenges. I believe that with fantastic people in our organisation, and an engaged student and alumni community, we can overcome these and thrive in the years ahead.”

How did you find working with Peridot?

“Working with Peridot was a fantastic experience. There was first class service from the start to the end of the process. We had an initial meeting to understand our need as an organisation, our culture and the sort of candidates that we were looking for,” said Crys.

“The team managing our appointments were highly knowledgeable, professional and always ready to listen and to customise the process, according to what we needed.”

“I would like to thank all the team at Peridot for their professional, tailored and energetic approach to supporting the Giving team at LBS during our recruitment. I felt like we had a safe pair of hands supporting us and that everyone involved was clear about our need and responded to any changing request that we may have had, as the process evolved.”

“It has been a pleasure, and I would have no doubt about recommending their services across the sector.”

Do you want to learn more about Peridot’s Membership Recruitment?

If we can help with any future recruitment you may have, or to talk about your own personal search, please call James Hunt on 07711 405444 or james@peridotpartners.co.uk