Request for Proposals for Campaign Consultant HERS (Higher Education Resource Services)


This year, 2022, marks the 50th anniversary of HERS, an organization that is dedicated to creating and sustaining a diverse network of women leaders in higher education. We seek to leverage this milestone to raise funds for the organization’s strategic priorities. To do so, HERS requests proposals from qualified independent consulting firms interested in a) becoming a strategic partner for this upcoming fundraising campaign and b) guiding this mature organization in efforts to lay the foundation for a sustainable advancement infrastructure.


HERS is a 501(c)(3) organization, unique in its position as the longest standing, continuously functioning entity committed to addressing the gender equity gap for women of all intersectional gender identities in senior leadership positions in U.S. higher education. HERS has nearly 7,000 alums and past participants, all of whom are women-identified individuals in or aspiring to higher education leadership roles. These women have matriculated through various HERS programs over the decades, most notably, HERS’ signature program, the HERS Leadership Institute (HLI). These alums and past participants represent more than 1,400 colleges, universities and higher education associations and organizations. Many have advanced in their careers to the roles of president/chancellor/CEO, vice president, dean, and other senior leadership positions.

Strategic priorities to be supported through this proposed fundraising campaign are three-fold:

  • Expand Capacity: HERS will serve more women through additional professional and leadership development programs across the lifespan of women’s careers. HERS seeks to grow its capacity from currently serving over 200 women each year, to serving and engaging approximately 1,000 women each year.
  • Provide Financial Support: HERS will provide program participants who have documented financial need with scholarship support. Scholarship funds will be aimed at, but not limited to, increasing program participation among women from underrepresented demographic backgrounds and institution types.
  •  Establish a research program: HERS will collect data and conduct both original and assessment/evaluation research that contributes to the body of knowledge on women’s leadership and track the organization’s impact and amplify the results when bold and inclusive leadership is executed by women who serve as agents of change for higher education institutions.

HERS’ Financial Status and Fundraising Capacity:
HERS has an endowment currently valued at $1.7 million. In a normal operating year (pre-pandemic), HERS’ annual operating budget was approximately $1.8 million. In FY21, due to the pandemic, the operating budget was down to $1.2 million. These FY21 operating funds were derived from HLI (80%), other virtual programs across women’s career lifespan (14%), donations (5%), and miscellaneous revenue (1%).

In FY 21, HERS raised through its Annual Fund $15,000 from approximately 100 donors. HERS Board of Directors contributed another $22,000 (with 100% participation from all 16 members). The work of the Board is dependent upon an active committee structure, which, fortunately, is in place. The Advancement Committee will work with the fundraising consultant throughout the tenure of the contract.

HERS has had long-term relationships with several corporations and foundations. Another $10,000+ in FY21 Annual Fund contributions came from a corporate supporter. Over the decades, HERS has had grants and contributions from organizations such as TIAA, Clare Boothe Luce Foundation, Mellon Foundation, Carnegie Corporation, Academic Search, Lumina Foundation, and others. Corporate and foundation contributions were typically awarded to fund specific strategic initiatives. The President of HERS and Board of Directors will continue to steward and develop relationships with corporate and foundation partners outside this body of work that is being requested by the campaign consultant.

HERS has some experience conducting fundraising campaigns. Nevertheless, the organization needs an infrastructure for fundraising success and sustainability. A campaign was organized around the retirement of HERS’ long-serving president, Judith White, which culminated in raising $28,000. HERS has no professional staff devoted solely to advancement work but plans to hire a staff member to oversee alumnae affairs in the coming months.

HERS’ database consists of nearly 4,000 working email addresses for its alumnae body, current and former Board of Directors, faculty, and program facilitators. Cleaning and updating the database is an ongoing work in progress to help ensure continuous engagement between HERS constituents and the organization, especially through the HERS Network.

Growing the Operating Budget and Donor Contributions

HERS Operating Budget for FY 2021 was approximately $1.2 million with the bulk of the revenue generated from HERS’ signature leadership program, HLI.

By FY 27, the goal is to move the organization toward increased donor contributions to make HERS programs more accessible to prospective HERS program participants who have financial need. Increased scholarship support, which will be awarded through an application process where financial need is documented, will enable HERS to reach more underserved groups based on underrepresented intersectional gender identities and institution-type. Increased donor contributions will also support expanding staff capacity and programming and a research program to document HERS’ impact on women’s careers and contribute to the body of knowledge about women’s leadership in general, and more specifically about women leaders in higher education.

In a typical pre-pandemic year, HERS’ budget allowed the organization to support half the cost for up to 18 women to attend HLI (~10% of all HLI attendees). Scholarship awards in a typical year totaled approximately $70,000. HERS seeks to at least double the amount available for scholarship awards to expand access to programs and increase the diversity of women participants who ultimately become a part of the bold women leaders in higher education and the HERS Network.

While we seek to sustain the organization’s profit margin from our program offerings, simultaneously our goal is to expand donor giving from approximately 5% of the annual operating budget to 33% of the annual operating budget by FY 2027. (See Figure 2 below for proposed revenue streams by FY27.)

In addition to doubling the financial support that HERS provides to participants with documented need, a larger share of donor support would sustain the organization’s expanded staff and programming capacity as well as a research program.

Next Steps for HERS

As HERS considers the next steps in funding the strategic priorities, the organization’s leadership would like to consider various fundraising strategies – from a traditional fundraising campaign to a sustainable, more robust Annual Fund. The goal is to raise $5 million by 2027 and thereafter have a fundraising program in place that would allow the organization to raise approximately $1 million each year to sustain the important initiatives outlined above in the strategic priorities.

To Respond to this RFP:

All proposals should outline a plan and timeline for addressing the following needs:

  • Campaign Planning and Strategy
    •  Review and finalize Case Statement draft
    • Review and finalize Donor Giving Pyramid, with an emphasis on existing HERS constituency of over 4,000 women and male allies in higher education
    • Lead strategy development for donor giving from among HERS alums, current and former Board of Directors, and current and former HERS faculty/program presenters
  •  Lead execution and management of the Campaign kickoff, including documentation of planned gifts
  •  Provide guidance and recommendations for a sustainable infrastructure for a successful Annual FundHERS will consider renewing the contract for up to 3 years on a year-by-year basis, provided consultant is successfully meeting the goals and achieving the metrics outlined in the proposed plan each year. Timeline should include what will be achieved in years 1, 2 and 3. Proposals should indicate the availability and fees for extending the contract each year. Year 1 will begin anytime between July 1 and September 1, 2022.NOTE: Contributions that HERS will seek from corporations and foundations through grant writing will be outside the scope of this body of work.Each proposal should specifically include plans for…
  •  Reviewing current fundraising strategy and outreach approaches with recommendations for improvements
  • Identifying strategies for engaging key HERS alums and past participants in campaign and annual fundraising; develop clear goals and metrics of success
  •  Providing feedback and input on HERS Case Statement and its distribution
  • Working with HERS marketing and communications team and HERS leadership to develop marketing collateral and share fundraising data and other information for press relations
  • Identifying and cultivating prospective major gift donors
  •  Implementing a process for documenting and receiving planned gifts
  • Assisting with outreach to friends and alums through 50th anniversary regional receptions
  • Conducting wealth assessments on HERS alums in database to determine giving capacity
  • Reviewing and revising current stewardship activities and plans as needed
  • Working with President and Board in communications and stewardship of donors
  • Increasing giving from HERS alumnae and improving donor retention
  • Updating Client Relationship Management (CRM) system with donor activity in Salesforce

Application Process:

To be considered for this contract, please submit a brief proposal by email (not to exceed 10 pages) outlining:

  • Your approach, plans, and methods to achieve the deliverables outlined above.
  • Previous experience and qualifications for this project including a recent example preferably explaining work completed with a women’s or equity-focused organization and explanation of the campaign.
  • (Please explain what went well or did not go well and why.)
  • At least two references for organizations for which you have recently facilitated a comprehensive campaign process.
  • List of staff assigned to this campaign with brief resumé or bio of their experiences.
  • A sample comprehensive or capital campaign donor marketing packet.
  •  Proposed fee structure which separately lists each service and related fee based on the scope of the project discussed above, separately stating, if necessary, any charges for anticipated reimbursable costs. This structure should be expressed as a “fee not to exceed” figure which itemizes all services included in the proposed fee, as well as an itemized list of what would be considered “additional services” if requested by HERS.


Proposals will be evaluated based on these criteria:

  • Experience developing campaigns and fundraising programs focused primarily on women donors.
  • Comprehensiveness of proposal in meeting outlined expectations and deliverables.
  • Proposed cost. While HERS is willing and prepared to invest in launching a fundraising campaign and creating an advancement infrastructure, resources are not unlimited.

Connection to HERS mission, vision and values, which are currently under revision, but a draft of updates read:

Mission – HERS is dedicated to creating and sustaining a diverse community of woman-identified leaders who serve as change agents in higher education through their commitment to and the advancement of excellence, diversity, equity, inclusion, and access.

Vision – HERS will be the premier leadership development organization in higher education for woman-identified leaders of all intersectional gender identities with no financial barriers for participation.


  •  Boldness
  • Community
  • Collaboration
  • Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Access (DEIA)
  • Innovation
  • Well-being
  • Persistence

Submitted proposals should be addressed to Gloria Thomas, President, and Laurie Persico, Executive Assistant to the President and Board of Directors, and sent as one PDF packet via email to with “Proposal for Campaign Consultant” in the subject line by April 15, 2022.

  • Proposals will be reviewed by May 15, 2022, with contract awarded by June 30, 2022.
  • Zoom interviews will be conducted prior to making a final decision.
  • Year 1 will begin anytime between July 1 and September 1, 2022.
  • The consultant’s principal contacts will be Gloria Thomas, President, and Laurie Persico, Executive Assistant to the President and Board of Directors.


HERS (Higher Education Resource Services) The Chambers Center

1901 E. Asbury Ave., Suite 220, Denver, CO 80208

Email –

Phone – (303) 871-6866 Fax – (303) 871-6766