Case Study

L. Robert Payne School of Hospitality and Tourism Management
San Diego State University

Fundraising Strategy and Donor Relations



The L. Robert Payne School of Hospitality & Tourism Management at San Diego State University is the most personalized school of its kind in developing hospitality and tourism leaders. Its program encompasses two unique fields of study: hospitality and tourism management (HTM) and recreation tourism management (RTM). All students of both fields are required to complete internship and work experience, both domestic and internationally.

The school’s foundation is built upon the philanthropic support of alumni and industry leaders. Yet the program does not currently have resources to hire its own development officer. Carl Winston, Director of the School, wanted to harness the power of philanthropy to build and maintain the programs. He hired KDD Philanthropy to provide ongoing fundraising consulting in order to build the framework for a culture of philanthropy foundation within the school.

Process of Working with KDD Philanthropy

Kathy Drucquer Duff began working with Carl several years ago and has helped the school grow its philanthropic efforts through donor strategy, the creation of stewardship plans, conceived of new and unique ways to engage alumni and donors, and coached staff.

Carl is grateful for Kathy’s coaching to help him become an effective frontline fundraiser along with running the academic unit. He believes Kathy’s ability to navigate major gift strategy in a complicated political university environment is one of the unique skillsets that she possesses.

“She turned us academic leaders into fundraisers. She was patient, methodical and good at teaching me how to work with donors, use strategy, and she taught me the rules of the game strategically. That’s made me way more effective academically and as a fundraiser.”

Carl has also seen first-hand how Kathy’s listening and probing questions strategy helps achieve true donor alignment, and how that method helps the development officer understand the donor’s desires and get them excited about making a gift.

Most recently, Kathy worked with the Payne School to create an alumni matching crowdfunding campaign. This was a new strategy for the school and Carl was not convinced it would work, especially given their oldest alumni is 32-years-old and may not be in the same philanthropic mindset as older alumni.

The campaign ended up being one of the most successful crowdfunding projects San Diego State has done, raising $10,000 for the school in just one month. In addition, they utilized a gift from a new donor to create a match opportunity, that led to new donors understanding the power of giving.

“This was a small activation that we didn’t believe in, but Kathy championed. She saw that potential in a new platform for us while focusing on the larger longer-term strategy this campaign could have for our 2020 anniversary efforts. Not only did it work, but it engaged alumni in a new way. And it created a level of enthusiasm for the staff doing alumni relations. Now they are invested and want to repeat the campaign and do it even better.”

Results and Recommendations

Carl believes Kathy’s ability to understand the strategic environment that the organization is in and where it’s going is a huge advantage she has over other consultants.

“Kathy is not just one thing. She can do everything from full service philanthropy staffing to strategy – all with humility. She’s not selling a product or trying to push anything. And she’ll never give you something you don’t need.”

The school plans to continue engaging with Kathy as a consultant for its philanthropic efforts.

“Kathy has one of the quickest minds in the world. The speed at which she operates is amazing. Yet it’s matched by her relentless professionalism and perfection. She’s able to grasp everything at warp speed and help organizations prioritize and focus on what they can get done.”