Fundraising Operations Capstone

This online capstone course provides students the opportunity to connect the material from six prerequisite courses and is the final component required to earn the Fundraising Operations Certificate.

metal gear with fundraising engraving

The capstone course includes four online sessions with additional content covering the following topics: building and managing an operations team, working with leadership and understanding the role of operations in a campaign, as well as advice for staying current in the industry and advancing your career. You work with a mentor to design and complete a practicum project that may directly benefit your respective organization. Project components include a written paper and presentation delivered online during the final class session. This is the final step to earn the Fundraising Operations Certificate.


Section Instructor Format Schedule start date
CPNL7020.F18.1 David VanLone, Diane Crane, Charles Headley Online 10 a.m.- 3 p.m. (one hour lunch break from noon-1 p.m.) Friday, August 10, 2018

Instructor: David VanLone

Job Title: Director of Corporate/Foundation Relations

Organization: The University of Maryland

Degree(s): Bachelor's degree, MBA

David VanLone is director of corporate/foundation relations for the Office of Development and Alumni Relations in the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland. He has 20 years of experience in development, including a previous post as the senior vice president of major gifts for the Great Rivers Affiliate of the American Heart Association, as well as the Presbyterian Healthcare Foundation, the Baylor Health Care System Foundation, and Southern Methodist University. While at SMU, the university announced and completed the $540 million The Campaign for SMU: A Time to Lead initiative. Mr. VanLone has served as a fundraising consultant for universities and nonprofits, and as a technical consultant for prospect screening companies. He is co-founder, former president and board member of the Southwest Chapter of the Association of Professional Researchers (APRA) and is a frequent presenter for organizations such as CASE, AHP, AFP, APRA. In 2009, he was presented with the Jonathan Lindsay Award, which recognizes long service and expertise in prospect research. He holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing from St. Bonaventure and an MBA from Syracuse University.

Job Title: Senior Director of Development & Team Lead

Organization: Oklahoma State University Foundation

Degree/s: Bachelor's degree in journalism and master's degree in English

Diane Crane leads the development team for the Spears School of Business at Oklahoma State University Foundation and is responsible for leadership gift and major gift fundraising for the school. She joined the OSU Foundation in January 2011. Ms. Crane began her advancement career at Texas Christian University, first in communications (1985-1989) and then as director of prospect research (1989-1996). She joined the consulting firm Bentz Whaley Flessner in 1996 and spent nine years as a fundraising consultant to universities, hospitals and other nonprofits throughout the United States. In 2005, she became vice present of development at Cook Children’s Health Foundation in Fort Worth, and then from 2008-2010 served as campaign director at the University of North Texas. Diane has been a presenter at APRA and CASE conferences for many years and was a board member for the Association of Professional Researchers for Advancement. She earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism (1983) and a master’s in English (1991) from Texas Christian University.

Job Title: Executive Director of Development Services

Organization: Southern Methodist University

Charles Headley currently serves as executive director of development services at Southern Methodist University. Prior to joining SMU in 2006 he was senior director of Education and healthcare sector with Kintera, an innovative provider of web interaction software for nonprofit organizations. Charles was one of the founders of Prospect Information Network which was acquired by Kintera in 2004. Mr. Headley began his career in the fields of library and information science, and computer programming.  He was with Marts & Lundy from 1984-1988, and helped to develop the fundraising industry’s first computerized prospect screening service.  He then served two years as Vice President of The Information Prospector, a Washington DC based prospect research firm.  From 1990 – 1998 he held several positions with CDA/Investnet, helping them develop their securities matching service, and their FACT$ family of identification services. Mr. Headley has served on the CASE District Four board and is a charter member of the Association for Advancement Services Professionals.  He is a frequent conference speaker and was conference chair for the 2009 CASE Campaign Fundamentals conference. He received an A.B. from McKendree College in Lebanon, IL, a M.S. from the University of Illinois in Urbana, IL, and an MBA from Bernard Baruch (CUNY) in New York City.

Term: Fall 2018

Start Date: Aug. 10, 2018

End Date: Aug. 10, 2018

Schedule: 10 a.m.- 3 p.m. (one hour lunch break from noon-1 p.m.)

Length: Days to come

Fee: $1,695

Early Application: $1,495 if registering by July 6, 2018

For AFP, APRA and AASP members: $1,270 if applying before July 6, 2018; $1,440 if applying after July 6, 2018

CFREs: 20 points

Note: Current schedule is an approximation of dates. Final dates will be available March 23. You must complete six prerequisite courses before applying for the capstone. View tabs below for more details.

Participants must complete all of the six (6) online courses listed below before applying for the capstone:

Essentials of Gift Administration

Learning Objectives:

•    To learn the essentials of gift processing and record maintenance
•    To understand best practices in a donor-centered environment
•    To gain awareness of special cases and complex donor transactions 

Donor Relations: Maintaining Strong Relationships with Your Donors

Learning Objectives: 

•    To learn the essentials of donor relations efforts 
•    To understand best practices in gift acceptance and acknowledgement
•    To recognize the importance and process involved with strategic stewardship including reporting requirements and recognition

Fundamentals of Constituent Relationship Management

Learning Objectives: 

•    To learn the essentials of prospect management coding, analysis and reporting
•    To understand best practices in a donor-centered environment
•    To understand how prospect management effectively works with gift officers

Fundraising Analytics: Leveraging the Power of Data

Learning Objectives: 

•    To learn the essentials of data analytics and how it impacts fundraising efficiency and planning 
•    To gain awareness of the needed data to be tracked to have highest impact with analytics
•    To gain awareness of how analytics could be utilized by your organization

Fundraising Systems Management, Reporting and Business Intelligence

Learning Objectives:

•    To learn the essentials of database management and data integrity
•    To understand best practices in reporting and utilizing information for decision support
•    To gain awareness of the application of data to fundraising metric and planning
•    To understand best practices in sharing essential data across your organization 
•    To gain awareness and understanding of different fundraising database system

Prospect Research and Analysis

Learning Objectives: 

•    To learn the essentials of ethical prospect research, analysis and reporting
•    To understand best practices in translating research into actionable intelligence
•    To gain awareness on how prospect research collaborates with other departments  

The six (6) courses may be completed in the spring semester prior to applying for the capstone course in the fall. Please note that you may take any of the six (6) online operations courses to advance your skill set without committing to the full certificate. You have five (5) years from the time you complete the first course to finish all six (6) classes and apply for the capstone. After acceptance and successful completion of the capstone, you earn the Fundraising Operations Certificate.






Please note this schedule is from 2017 and only shown as an approximation for 2018. 

Thursday, September 28, 2017, 10 a.m. – noon 

Thursday, October 26, 2017, 10 a.m. – noon 

Thursday, November 16, 2017, 10 a.m. – noon 

Thursday, December 7, 2017, 10 a.m. – noon

Program Completion Requirements:

Once you have successfully completed all six online fundraising operations courses, you may apply for the capstone course. The capstone course includes a total of 12 hours of additional content presented through three class sessions and a final class session that provides participants the opportunity to present their practicum project to the lead instructor, fellow cohort participants and their mentor. The practicum project is an individual strategic project that requires a written paper and presentation submission.

Participants have five years from the time they complete the first course online fundraising operations to finish all six classes and apply for the capstone course. After acceptance and successful completion of the capstone, you earn the Fundraising Operations Certificate

Application Process

To begin the application process for the capstone course, the final step to earn the Fundraising Operations Certificate, please submit the following completed forms: the program application form, résumé or curriculum vitae, a personal statement and one professional letter of recommendation.

Once all required documents are received, completed files are reviewed after the application deadline. Decisions regarding admittance into the program are made by an admissions committee and applicants will receive an official decision letter within two weeks from the review period.

Applications received after the deadline are considered on a space-available basis, after the initial group of applicants has been considered.

Early Application Deadline: Friday, July 6, 2018 (includes a discount)
General Application Deadline: Friday, August 10, 2018

Mail completed applications to:
Rice University
Susanne M. Glasscock School of Continuing Studies
Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership
PO Box 1892 - MS 550
Houston, TX 77251-1892

For additional information regarding the application process, please contact our program coordinator at 713-348-6009 or email

Individual course pricing: $285 (discounts available for AASP, APRA and AFP members)

Capstone course pricing: $1,695 AASP APRA and AFP members: $1,440

  • If applying by July 6: $1,495 AASP, APRA and AFP members: $1,270

Alternative Payment Options

Payment plan options are available for the Capstone course by request. Payment plans will not be granted after the start of the program. Contact the program coordinator for the required forms needed to request this option.

Refund Policy

No refunds will be issued on or after the start date of the program. Fees will be refunded in-full when enrollments are canceled in writing ten (10) business days before the program start date. For enrollment cancellations submitted in writing less than two weeks before the program start date, a 20% processing fee will be deducted from the overall refund.

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