Director of Major Gifts Leads Regional Campaigns

Andy McGadney, director of Major Gifts, travels nation-wide to recruit gifts in the form of cash, stock, planned gifts, property or rare collections.
Posted 05/23/05
Q: When did you come to Wesleyan and were you hired in as director of Major Gifts?

A: I started at Wesleyan on August 4, 1994 as an assistant director within the Wesleyan Annual Fund.

Q: What is your background that led you to this job?

A: Mostly sales. I was working for Otis Elevator Company as an account representative for service sales out of the Stamford office. I interned with Otis during my last three years as a student at Wesleyan University. I graduated from Wesleyan in 1992 with a double major in sociology and African American Studies. I am currently beginning my third semester at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs in pursuit of an executive MPA.

Q: Please define what a ‘gift’ is in university terms.

A: A gift to the university could consist of any type of monetary contribution or object that could be sold for cash. For example cash, stock, planned gift like a charitable remainder trust, bequest, unitrust, or property, art, rare books or rare collections. On occasion, Wesleyan will accept an item that may be beneficial to our own collections.

Q: What is a ‘major gift?’

A: Gifts of $50,000 in value and greater are considered major gifts.

Q: What are your responsibilities as director of Major Gifts?

A: During the campaign, which ended on January 13, 2005, my major responsibility was to lead the various regional campaigns across the country. I went to Boston, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle and Portland. Outside of the campaign, I am responsible for raising major gifts from our major gift prospect pool of approximately 2,500 prospects. I articulate solicitation strategies, talking points and travel agendas for the chairman of the board, the president and the vice president of University Relations, Barbara-Jan Wilson, my fearless leader. I lead and manage the Major Gifts team, which consists of major gift officers, researchers, a development writer and administrative assistants.

Q: Where do fund raised through Major Gifts go?

A: Our team plays a large role in securing the $31 million dollar annual goal needed to meet our institutional goals. Funds raised by our team goes towards the Annual Fund, various campus approved projects like the College of Social Studies, Turf field, Science Center, financial aid and facilities to name a few.

Q: Do you travel much for work?

A: I visit with 75 prospects annually, down from a high of 100 visits. I spend two to three weeks on the West Coast and the rest of the travel is done with one to three day trips to various locations such as New York, Boston, Philly, D.C, and Florida. The other members of the team each have visit goals of 100-125 visits per year and they have specific areas of coverage. I try to visit each major city area every year.

Q: Who generally donates major gifts? Do they always have a Wesleyan tie?

A: Most of our major donors are alumni and that is the group I focus on, although we receive gifts from corporations, foundations and friends, current and past parents. Most gifts have a tie but not all.

Q: Is finding major gifts a collaborative effort?

A: Major gifts are a complete collaborative effort. Gifts raised today may be because of solid work from previous fundraisers, administrators or faculty. A prospect, for the most part, just does not wake up one morning and say I want to give a million bucks. A tremendous amount of planning and work goes into a successful solicitation. Our alumni programs and events staff, the Career Resource Center & annual fund staff, reunion programming and many other departments play a major role. I have had the pleasure of working closely with Barbara-Jan Wilson, Midge and Doug Bennet, other members of senior staff, and several volunteers across the country – Mary McWilliams ’71, Bob Coleman ’68, Susan Sutherland ’82, Sanford Livingston ’87, Bruce Corwin ’62, Peter Hicks ’72, Kofi Appenteng ’80, Alan Dachs ’70, Renny Smith ’78 and John Nelson ’53 to name a few.

Q: What are the hours like?

A: When I am in the office I work a fairly normal day, although I tend to be a night owl. So, it is not uncommon to find me in front of computer at home in the early am or the late evening. When I am on the road, my day starts at 5:30 a.m. and if I have a dinner engagement it is not unlikely to return to the hotel until well after 10 p.m.

Q: What is your involvement with the Administrators and Faculty of Color Alliance?

A: I am currently the co-chair of this group with Lucy Diaz. This is a rewarding experience to serve this group. We are currently in the middle of a strategic planning session that I look forward to sharing with the greater Wesleyan community once it is completed.

Q: Are you involved in any other Wesleyan or community groups?

A: I am the vice president of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., Hartford Alumni Chapter, a former board member and keeper of records for this organization. My relationship with Kappa began at Wesleyan in 1989 and I have continued to play a leadership role with this organization since the late 80s.

Q: What are your interests outside of work?

A: Golf! I love the game, but I need a tremendous amount of work to improve. I joined a golf league last year that plays weekly at Keeney Golf course in Hartford. The organizer is a good friend and mentor, Evans Jacobs, class of 1973 from Wesleyan.

Q: Do you have a family?

A: My number one priority is my beautiful and loving family. They are Camille, my bride and sweetheart, also a Wesleyan alumnus class of 1993, and my two boys Kyle, 5, and Maxwell, 3.

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor