Anne Harris was recently hired to fill the associate vice president of development vacancy, a position responsible for overseeing fundraising campaigns for SF State.
Harris has worked in the CSU system for the past 16 years, and most recently came from CSU East Bay. SF State is Harris’ fourth CSU. Xpress sat with Harris and discussed her plans for SF State.
Xpress: Why did you decide to come to SF State?
Harris: The mission of the University really attracted me: the social justice, the diversity and the new leadership, the energy of the school; its a ‘can-do’ energy and the high-quality of education offered — also the success of the alumni.
Xpress: What is your role in the fundraising?
e have a feet-on-the-ground type of approach, I work with development officers in each college. Each college has a development officer who works on fundraising campaigns for their college, and all of the development officers work together. It’s seamless between college development officers. My role is to help create new fundraising programs and campaigns.
Xpress: What do you think is the most challenging part of getting contributions for SF State?
Harris: I’ve only been here three weeks, but, I will say in general re-connecting with alumni is the hardest part.
Xpress: How do you see overcoming that challenge?
Harris: Staying in contact with alumni. We do that through mailings, phone calls. We have a student call center here who call alums and that’s really been the best way, is having students talk for us about the need. An alum can talk to a current student, about, “Is this professor still there?” or, “Yeah, I remember this or that.” Having the students in the call center is essential, it also helps create a culture of philanthropy in current students.
Xpress: You were able to increase donations from the private sector by 40 percent at CSU East Bay, can we expect the same?
y goal is to increase donations. I’m not here to maintain status-quo. I want to rev things up, get a momentum going for us, then it’s just word of mouth. We need to raise the level of excitement.
Xpress: How will you do that?
Harris: We want to share our new programs with prospective donors: what students are doing, the success of graduates, our research successes. People like to give to organizations that are successful.
Xpress: How does President Wong’s strategic plan for SF State to become a destination school affect your role as AVP?
Harris: The more we enhance the school, the higher affinity students have to the school. And it’s great to bring back alumni, they can see the changes, and it gives them a sense of pride, it builds equity in their degree. It creates pride, to say “I am an SF State graduate,” and it will attract the best of students and faculty in the future.
Xpress: What are your goals for SF State and your work here?
Harris: We are working on a comprehensive fundraising campaign, this will mean all areas of the University would benefit, the money would go to where the need is. Currently, where money goes is donor driven. An area of focus will be educating students about where money comes from, how much people are engaged with the University.
Xpress: What’s the strategy behind that?
Harris: I started a program at Cal Poly that is student run (the Student Philanthropy Council), it’s about creating a culture of philanthropy. From the time students are freshmen they are educated about the philanthropy that has built the school, they understand where the money comes from that has built their school, it lays the groundwork for when students leave. I know last year SF State did a senior class gift, I want to coordinate something like that for the class of 2014. It creates a level of excitement, then students will pay it forward.