How Bennington College has grown its philanthropy exponentially in the last 20 years

Located in Bennington, Vermont, Bennington College is a private, not-for-profit, nonsectarian college that has focused on creating a student-led education since its founding in 1932. The College enjoys an array of impressive, high-achieving alumni, including philosopher and gender theorist Judith Butler, environmental journalist and bestselling author Michael Pollan, and award-winning actor Alan Arkin, among many others.

Bennington first engaged Development Guild DDI over 20 years ago to provide campaign and interim counsel as the College launched its first-ever campaign of $90 million. Historically, the College had received nearly all of its philanthropic support from its Board; a fact that both the President and the Board realized needed to change.  This campaign redefined the College’s philanthropic appetite and capability. Nearly 15 years later, in 2015, Bennington engaged Development Guild once again in the very early stages of campaign planning and shortly after the arrival of a new President for their second campaign – this one with an aspiration of nearly double the goal.  To prepare for this campaign, Development Guild partnered on creating a viable prospect model, a restructure of the staff that would support the design and launch of a broad alumni engagement program and a much more active frontline program, provided interim counsel as they recruited a new Vice President, and helped the Board and President embrace the realities of this campaign.  Along the way, we also provided search services to recruit critical leadership positions that would help reposition the team for success.  Now, three years later, Bennington has raised nearly $100M of their $160M campaign goal and just took the campaign public across the country. It has been a terrific, multi-faceted engagement with measurable change and well on the way to the goal of sustainable philanthropy.


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