News and analysis
January 05, 2016

Stephanie Greiner: Fundraising From Scratch

Courtesy Stephanie Greiner

Stephanie Greiner, 34
Chief Development Officer, Des Moines University

Stephanie Greiner was pretty much starting from scratch when she took the top fundraising job at Des Moines University three years ago. The venerable (founded in 1898) Iowa medical school sent four direct-mail appeals a year and held some alumni events. But it didn’t do any telephone fundraising or make significant efforts to attract big donations and planned gifts.

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Ms. Greiner sent birthday and holiday cards, stopped by graduates’ medical offices, and spent much of her first two years on the road — anything to make connections with potential donors. She also cultivated relationships on campus, building support for fundraising ideas that were very new to the university.

The legwork paid off. Des Moines University raised $3 million in fiscal 2015, up from $1 million in the year before Ms. Greiner arrived, and the school expects to take in $5 million in the current fiscal year. She’s already hired one fundraiser to focus on big gifts and plans to add a second to her team soon. The university is slated to start its first capital campaign later this year.

"It’s exciting," she says. "It feels very much like we’re launching something that is going to be history someday."

Send an email to Nicole Wallace.