Case Study

Texas Christian University

A Bold Campaign Inspires Bold New Fundraising Approaches

Texas Christian University’s mission is to educate individuals to think and act as ethical leaders and responsible citizens in the global community. For TCU, becoming a force for the greater good has never felt more urgent. “Lead On: A Campaign for TCU” is the most ambitious philanthropic campaign in the university’s nearly 150-year history, with a bold $1 billion goal to drive support for TCU’s people, programs and endowment.

The Challenge

TCU’s university advancement team has decades of impressive campaigns to their credit. But David Nolan, TCU Associate Vice Chancellor for Development and Campaign Director, recognized that reaching new fundraising heights would require new insights, new thinking, and new processes.

Nolan and his team identified three areas of opportunity for TCU:

Leverage Data for Prospecting
Many organizations have too little data for developing prospecting strategies. The TCU university advancement team had the opposite challenge: too much data. They found it difficult to leverage all that information. Nolan says, “We wanted something that would help us visualize and interact with data to understand it in deeper and more intuitive ways.”

Improve Portfolio Management

With major donors, robust prospecting is just the beginning. Nolan says, “Identifying prospects and getting them into the pipeline is critical, but then you have to make sure you’re taking the most effective approach with the right prospects within the pipeline in order to be successful.” TCU needed a fresh look at its portfolio management strategies to make the most of engagement with high-level donors.

Implement Results-Oriented Tactics
Change is never easy, but it is key to growth. Nolan and his team were ready to embrace new ways to collaborate and share best practices to drive improvement. “Not only did we need to gather this data and visualize it,” he says, “but we also needed to determine how that gets applied in a meaningful way that helps people develop individually, develop collectively as a team, and contribute more consistently and more meaningfully to return on investment.”


We wanted something that would help us visualize and interact with data to understand it in deeper and more intuitive ways.

David Nolan
Associate Vice Chancellor for Development and Campaign Director, Texas Christian University

The Solution

TCU partnered with Pursuant to refocus the university’s fundraising approach. We were able to empower the TCU team in two ways:

#1 – Deploy Technology to Leverage Data

Using our Advizor platform, we helped TCU shift from measuring field officer activities to measuring prospect-oriented performance drivers. Organizing their abundance of donor data into performance drivers has helped TCU development officers see the information in new ways, thanks to Advizor’s interactive and visual discovery features.

Nolan says prospecting is now more streamlined: “We’ve seen positive benefits in terms of the amount of prospecting they’re able to do, how quickly they’re able to get through large sets of data and put that data into action—in terms of qualifying, rating and assigning prospects and getting them into portfolios.” 

Advizor also has made it easier to measure success and focus on activities that truly connect with donors.

“One of the key performance drivers for us is now Portfolio Penetration—the percentage of the portfolio that the gift officer has connected with over the past 12 months,” Nolan says. “This drives a lot of discussion and is now a key MGO metric. Automatically flagging Meaningful Contacts, versus just Visits, has also been a game changer, as is using Capacity and Attachment to project potential Ask Amounts. This has driven a lot of discussion and has helped increase our Ask Levels and also our Velocity of Closing.”


#2 – Transform Discussions and Processes

Such discussions — using the performance drivers to cull best practices and share them across the TCU team — are critical. Therefore, Pursuant modeled a new approach for having more open and transparent conversations driven by “I wonder” questions. Doug Cogswell, Pursuant Executive Vice President, facilitated meetings with TCU’s management and gift officers with the goal of asking the right questions to foster a safe environment where the TCU team could collaborate on best practices together.

The Results

TCU says Pursuant’s help has been transformational. With Advizor, Nolan says his team now can “look at a prospect more holistically in terms of their relationship with us—and what that relationship tells us about how much they love this institution—and then how their financial capacity influences the way we think about them as a prospective donor.”


“Using Advizor has helped management focus gift officer performance on portfolio penetration. We have seen portfolio penetration increase as a result of this focus and the ability to better track and measure meaningful contacts. I’m not sure we can provide an accurate statistic here but our across the board average is much closer to our target of 80% than it was when we started.”

Among the results TCU is seeing:

  • Ask levels and Velocity of Close have increased across the board, which means more money, more quickly for TCU’s mission.
  • At least a 10% increase in prospect identification numbers each year—new prospects who would not have been identified without Advizor.
  • Portfolio Penetration rates are up and that metric has been incorporated into TCU’s annual goals and objectives for development officers.
  • Annual giving appeals are more targeted and effective because they are based on data which allows them to be more precise and much more effective.

TCU can see how the new focus on prospect performance drivers will be key to long-term success, as it is applied in new ways. For example, as the university created digital engagement activities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, robust data analysis was critical. “We now have successful events that allow us to engage with people around the world,” Nolan says.

Using our proven solutions, Pursuant were able to lead the TCU advancement team to new strategies for prospecting and portfolio management, plus new tactics to bring those strategies to life. We can do the same for your organization. Contact the Pursuant team today.


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