Case Study

National University

Organizational Audit and Philanthropy Program Creation




Quality, access, relevance, accelerated pace, affordability, and community are the core values that shape the National University mission. Since 1971, National University has been dedicated to making lifelong learning opportunities accessible, challenging, and relevant to a diverse student population. Based in San Diego, California, National University offers a wide range of educational opportunities that help students earn an associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s degree or teaching credential.

National University was facing a challenge: to build a fundraising infrastructure at the institution. The university did not have a history or culture of philanthropy, nor did it have a fundraising model in place. To solve this problem, Chris Graham, Vice Chancellor of External Relations, hired KDD Philanthropy to conduct an organizational audit and create a philanthropy structure for National University.

Process of Working with KDD Philanthropy

Chris began working with Kathy Drucquer Duff to conduct an internal assessment of National University. She reviewed staffing structures, and internal and external communications to assess perceptions of the university. Kathy then created a nine-month plan to help National University scale up its fundraising efforts. The plan was divided into three stages: three, six and nine months. Additionally, Kathy helped National University recruit a vice president of development. She was instrumental in designing the job description and interviewing candidates.

Chris had this to say about working with Kathy:

She has such a great combination of experience having worked at UC San Diego, San Diego State and Sharp Healthcare. She established credibility early on with the leadership team and our president. She really had a great awareness of what we were trying to do.

Kathy’s an outstanding communicator, and connects well at various levels throughout an organization. She can communicate with the president or trustee, and to the person at the reception desk. She’s strategic yet tactical.

Additionally, Chris was pleased with Kathy’s “wide lens” approach to working with National University.

Kathy doesn’t just give a vague or broad recommendation. She maps things out and gives action plans and gives you specific directions. This is what differentiates her from other consultants where you pay someone for an expensive assessment, yet there’s not the bandwidth or playbook to execute on that.


National University is still in the process of implementing the strategic plan Kathy helped them create. However, Chris admits they are already seeing the benefits of having worked with her on the process.

She helped us lay out the framework for creating an external outreach plan to share the National University story. We’ve been able to have our president go out into the community and meet with potential partners who are interested in education and workforce development. Kathy helped develop that timeline, identify organizations and the right community influencers.

Additionally, National University successfully hired a vice president, and they are using the building blocks Kathy recommended to structure the fundraising department.