Andy Selfridge ’67, the principal gifts officer at the University of Virginia, travels around the country raising money for the university.
Selfridge knows it’s a lot to ask, and he’s had plenty of time to refine his approach in the 20 years he’s had the job. In persuading an alumnus to make a donation, Selfridge often asks, “What would you like to accomplish with your money that would be meaningful to you?”
It’s up to him to “awaken the echoes from their days as students,” he says, and to remind alumni of what was so important to them then.
Selfridge often finds that the echoes he awakens – the most powerful of them, at least – originated outside the classroom. He’s heard it quite a bit since 2004, when the university kicked off a $3 billion fundraising campaign.
In 2004, $3 billion seemed like a feasible goal to Selfridge and his fellow development officers. Things were “rolling along really well” until the bottom fell out in 2008, he says. “Then we got behind the curve and have been trying to catch up ever since.”
With the capital campaign winding down, UVA still is $100 million shy of its goal. Meeting it sounds like a pipe dream – until one realizes donors already have given $2.9 billion.
“We have a dedicated group of alumni, friends and families that are very generous to the university,” says Selfridge, who is part of a UVA development operation comprising 300 officers and staffers and 27 different foundations. Twenty-seven is a huge number, considering most universities have just one foundation.
“Having 27 foundations requires massive amounts of coordination and cooperation among all the development officers and the development team,” Selfridge says.
The team atmosphere in the central development office drew Selfridge to the job. It seemed a natural fit for someone like him, who’d been part of a football team nearly all his life – from Vern Weber’s Lancers, (his brother, Tom Selfridge ’65, played as well), to the University of Virginia’s Cavaliers, to the New York Giants.
“It was March of my senior year at Gilmour, and unlike students in today’s world, I had no idea where I was going to school and wasn’t the least bit concerned,” Selfridge recalls. “And sure enough, the football coach from UVA walked into Vern Weber’s office, wanted to talk to me and offered me a scholarship sight unseen.”
Selfridge played defensive tackle for UVA and got drafted as a linebacker by the San Diego Chargers in 1972. He played six seasons in the NFL, three of them with the Giants.
“The relationships you develop with your teammates are the most enduring thing,” he says. “The NFL is, how do you put it? It’s a totally performance-based enterprise and the scrutiny is a daily occurrence. It was good training for my post-football occupations.”
Working in UVA’s development office “feels like working for the home team,” Selfridge says. “It makes a difference to me that I went to school here. And the positive experience I had at UVA probably comes through in my conversations with prospects and donors.”