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Cornell University

Cornell University has long been a leader in higher education fundraising, but with a campaign approaching, Cornell’s leadership saw an opportunity to achieve even more productivity. They considered how philanthropy and donor motivations have changed in recent years and sought a partner to help reestablish their foundational elements of best practice and identify areas where increased discipline would lead to better results.


  • Leaders sought to redefine “the Cornell way of fundraising” and impart this approach across the University’s entire Development team.
  • They needed to amplify the considerable strengths of experienced fundraisers while identifying and addressing “blind spots.”

Benefits & Results

  • Combining the staff’s considerable experience and Plus Delta’s approach, Cornell achieved $15.55M in total return on their initial investment from 12 participants, including:
    • $6.2M closed that were not anticipated
    • $5.75M closed faster than originally forecast
    • $3.6M closed at a higher level than projected
  • 80% of DFF program participants reported significant improvement in their ability to assess the maturity of the donor relationship, including the best size and time of gift.
  • Reignited a “discipline to process” that clarified the donor’s intended relationship with Cornell.