Avila University & Hartsook Form Partnership

Hartsook Institutes is dedicated to increasing philanthropy through research and knowledge-based fundraising education. The Hartsook Institutes model was created for fundraising professionals who take responsibility for their own learning and who understand the key role they play in advancing philanthropy for nonprofit organizations.


Kansas City, MO
December 4, 2009

Avila University today announced that it has formed a partnership with Hartsook

Kansas City, MO December 4, 2009

Avila University today announced that it has formed a partnership with Hartsook

Institutes for Fundraising to provide the region's first master's degree in management with an emphasis in fundraising. Avila's Board of Trustees accepted a $1.2 million gift from Bob Hartsook and the Hartsook Companies, Inc., to fund the initial Hartsook Institute for Fundraising at Avila University.

"Avila is positioned well to implement this kind of entrepreneurial opportunity," said Avila president Ron Slepitza, Ph.D. "We have made the commitment that we want to be the center for fundraising education for our area. When Bob approached us, we jumped on board immediately. Once we started moving forward, our academic leadership achieved accreditation for the program in record time. It speaks volumes for the

respect the Higher Learning Commission has for our faculty, staff and university."

Hartsook Companies, which recently moved its world headquarters to Kansas City, is one of the most prominent names in fundraising consulting and has created a worldwide network for fundraising education. The goal of the Institutes is to grow philanthropy through research and knowledge-based, innovative fundraising education.

Avila University has been selected as the initial site for this new venture. As a result, Avila has presented to its trustees the successful accreditation of a master's degree in management with an emphasis in fundraising. Only two other similar degrees exist in the country--one at Columbia University and the other at New York University (NYU). What makes Avila's degree unique is that it is the only master's degree developed as a result of the work of Adrian Sargeant, Ph.D., the Robert F. Hartsook Chair in Fundraising at the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University. Sargeant's work, along with the research application proven by the Hartsook Companies, will result in the first research knowledge, competency-based master's degree in the world.

Dr. Sargeant, the author of several texts and recognized by international publications as one of the ten most influential people in the nonprofit world, is the visiting professor for the Institute and a member of the curriculum development committee. "At the Center, we all recognize that Bob is obsessed about developing a higher quality fundraising professional. I am fortunate to hold his Chair and join him in this venture," said Sargeant.

When Bob Hartsook, president of the Hartsook Institutes and chairman of Hartsook Companies, gave Indiana University $1.5 million to endow the Chair, his intention was to draw attention to the fundraising profession. "While we would all like to think that philanthropy happens purely because a good nonprofit and a philanthropist collide, the reality is that a fundraiser is usually at the intersection of that exchange," said Hartsook. "Unfortunately, as I stated when I endowed the Chair at Indiana, I believed the current fundraising educational models were flawed and the evidence of that is that philanthropy has grown very little each year." The endowed Chair was the first step in changing the model, and the creation of the Avila Hartsook Institute is the next step. Ultimately, Hartsook's goal is to change the model of fundraising education in America and the world.

"Kansas City is proud to be the initial site for this groundbreaking academic venture into fundraising education, said Laura McKnight, president and CEO of the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation. "While KC is a very philanthropic community, our needs outstrip the community's resources. I agree that improving the quality of the fundraising professional could have a profound impact on dollars available. We are excited for this partnership with a long-time KC friend, Hartsook Companies, and a long-time KC educational leader, Avila University."

"I have known Bob Hartsook for 30 years, and there is no one more committed to improving the quality of fundraisers in our country," commented Murray Blackwelder, president of the U.M.K.C. Foundation and former senior vice president of Purdue University. "His obsession about increasing philanthropy has driven him for years. To see him take this step after he endowed the Hartsook Chair at Indiana University is the

next natural step for his dream of growing fundraising skills."

Establishing a research-based graduate program with a fundraising emphasis is a bold step in the quest to increase philanthropy. Avila and Hartsook are to be commended for this investment in the future," said Lou Gehring, executive director of the Shawnee Mission Medical Center Foundation and the 2009 Association of Fundraising Professionals Fundraiser of the Year.

According to Hartsook, Bank of America has periodically surveyed the high net worth donor on a number of issues and reported that the fundraiser is a critical part of the donor's decision. The Indiana study on giving by the top 3 percent of donors, funded by Bank of America, has placed the fundraiser at or near the top of important counsel in making a gift. This group represents nearly 70 percent of all philanthropy in America.

"We welcome this investment in Kansas City to improve fundraising education in our community," added Bob Regnier, president and CEO of Bank of Blue Valley and a member of the Hartsook Kansas City Advisory Board. "This is an unprecedented opportunity for the fundraising community to have a champion in the Hartsook Institutes to encourage the development of a body of knowledge for the profession."

About Avila University

Avila University is a private, co-educational, values-based liberal arts institution founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, offering undergraduate, graduate, and adult degree programs. Avila University is located at 119th and Wornall Rd in southwest suburban Kansas City, Mo.

About Hartsook Companies

Hartsook Companies is dedicated to providing innovative, proven campaign strategies to nonprofit agencies and organizations while maintaining the highest standards of excellence and ethical practices. Hartsook Companies ranks among the largest and most productive campaign-consulting firms in the country. With 23 years of providing assistance to nonprofits, the firm has more than 60 consultants and associates based worldwide.