St. John’s College

Our Discovery

When St. John’s College enlisted the help of CFA, the goal was simply to raise more money. But our experience tells us that money follows vision, when college leaders started talking about significantly lowering tuition at a time when competitive institutions were raising their rates, we quickly identified a compelling vision to make a first-rate college education available for students from all backgrounds.

Our Approach

We shifted the discussion from fundraising to solve financial problems to talking about affordability and accessibility to the unique, high-quality education St. John’s College offers. Many people had concerns that reducing tuition would negatively affect the reputation of the college, but our feasibility testing showed just the opposite; there was an overwhelmingly positive response to the idea. Previously reluctant donors stepped forward when the vision emerged. CFA shaped the case for support around this compelling and radically different vision. We helped secure the lead gift and stayed on to advise the campaign.

The Results

The college surpassed its $300 million goal months ahead of its previously scheduled conclusion; embracing this momentum, the college embraced a stretch goal of $325 million, which it exceeded by the originally scheduled closing date on June 30, 2023. The Freeing Minds campaign ultimately raised more than $326 million, making it the most successful campaign in St. John’s history. By comparison, the college’s most successful prior campaign, which ended in 2008, raised $133 million. In 2018, New York Times reporter Frank Bruni found the ideas in the campaign so exciting, he wrote a front-page article about the college. The campaign has ensured the future of the institution by building a stronger infrastructure of student support and making transformational education more accessible to all who seek it.

What clients have to say about us

Creative Fundraising Advisors’ grasp of the nation’s philanthropic landscape—past, present, and future—has given us the confidence to go where art museums could and should go in the service of their diverse communities. Paul’s approach is inclusive, strategic, and forward-looking, and he and his team have positioned the McNay well for a very bright future.

Richard Aste Director & CEO, The McNay

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