Pair win Skystone Partners prize

A Texas consultant and an Indiana academic who collaborated on a new book about fundraising have won the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy/Skystone Partners Research Prize.

More than a “how-to” manual, Fundraising Principles for Faculty and Academic Leaders is grounded in growing academic literature on philanthropy and written by fundraising practitioners-turned scholars Aaron Conley and Genevieve Shaker.

The award is possible by an endowment established by Cincinnati-based Skystone Partners, an international fundraising consulting firm, through the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy to encourage
advanced research that extends the knowledge of fundraising and philanthropy.

Each year, the AFP Research Council awards the Skystone Partners Prize for Research to the author or authors of a book that contributes substantially to the knowledge and understanding of fundraising or philanthropic behavior.

Elizabeth Knuppel
Elizabeth Kohler Knuppel

“Skystone Partners is proud to support pioneering research in philanthropy and fundraising through the
AFP/Skystone Partners Prize for Research,” said Elizabeth Kohler Knuppel, president and CEO of Skystone Partners. “Fundraising practice founded on knowledge backed by quantifiable research elevates the level of professionalism of each of us. This work by Aaron and Gen is a tremendous addition to the field and a must read for anyone in an academic leadership role who seeks to be (or must be!) a fundraiser. Fundraising Principles for Faculty and Academic Leaders provides guidance supported by data and years of practical experience.”

The book includes evidence-based recommendations to help academicians excel in raising philanthropic support, notably emphasizing research revealing donors’ giving motivations. Case studies of successful fundraising and volunteer-driven initiatives are included.

The authors drew their original inspiration for the book from David D. Perlmutter’s seven-part series in the Chronicle of Higher Education, entitled Don’t Fear Fund Raising.

“We are truly honored to receive this award and join the distinguished list of past recipients,” said Dr. Conley. “We wrote this book with the intention of casting a light on the extensive research that’s been conducted in philanthropic studies in recent decades. While our primary audience is professors and academic leaders, we believe fundraisers across the nonprofit sector will benefit as well from the book’s insights and applications. Fundraising is a profession, and AFP has been a driving force in this effort. Our book is written in this same spirit, demonstrating to academicians that there is an increasing body of science to help inform the art of fundraising.”

Dr. Conley is the founding partner of Academic Advancement Partners, which provides teaching and
coaching programs for gift officers, deans, and other academic leaders. Dr. Shaker is an associate professor of philanthropic studies and the Donald A. Campbell chair in fundraising leadership at the
Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. Conley and Shaker are both faculty members
of The Fund Raising School.

“As fundraisers ourselves, we know firsthand how valuable it is to have research informed insights to help drive our practice and how helpful it is when the rest of the team understands the work of fundraising,” said Dr. Shaker. “With this book, we wanted to help academic leaders grow their fundraising savvy and knowledge by bringing research and experience to bear, which in turn supports fundraisers in their mission-central work. This award is a wonderful validation that the book is achieving these ends. The prize also helps to elevate the field of fundraising and brings attention to its importance to the nonprofit sector. We are grateful to the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy and to Skystone Partners for this opportunity and honor.”

The prize jury that reviewed each nomination commented that “Fundraising Principles for Faculty and
Academic Leaders’s unique contribution to the profession is the distillation of a large and growing body
of research about philanthropic behaviors and fundraising tactics made accessible for leaders not
previously trained in fundraising.”

This year, the jury also recognizes the book Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Advancement: A Guide to
Strengthening Inclusion by Dr. Angelique S.C. Grant and Ronald J. Schiller as an honorable mention. Their book is a timely resource for individual fundraisers and organizations seeking strategies for achieving behavioral change and sustained success in meeting DEI objectives.


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