Betsy Weatherly knows a thing or two about raising money. The current senior executive director of advancement and campaigns at Butler University has worked with a team throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to secure more than $210 million in both cash and pledge commitments for Butler Beyond. The campaign hopes to raise $250 million by May 2022 and use those gifts to “extend the impact of a Butler education beyond today’s students and beyond the borders of our campus.”
“In spite of the challenges we have faced over the past year, our community has been extremely generous in the form of philanthropic gifts to the Butler Beyond campaign,” she says. “Our team has been able to continue pursuing our philanthropic goals with a clear vision for Butler’s future thanks to their generosity.”
Prior to joining the faculty at Butler University for a second time in 2011, Weatherly earned her journalism degree from Indiana State University in 2004. After college, she got her first full-time job at Butler University in 2005 as an assistant director of annual giving, where she met her now-husband through a co-worker. She moved to Nashville, Tennessee in 2007 and worked for Vanderbilt University, then found herself back in Indiana in 2009 working for the American Heart Association as its corporate development director.
“Once I was away from higher education, I realized how passionate I was about fundraising for higher education and I came back to Butler to lead the campaign to renovate and preserve the historical Hinkle Fieldhouse,” she says. “So, my role at Butler has kind of evolved over the last 10 years, but I absolutely love it and am passionate about Butler and higher education and working on a comprehensive campaign.”
Weatherly chatted with us about the unique way she stays organized, the characteristics of an effective leader, and what she’s learned about money — she has helped raise a lot of it, after all.
Maven superpower: I can talk to anyone, no matter what. My mom always said I was born talking.
Describe your job as if you’re explaining it to a stranger at a dinner party
I have the opportunity to work with Butler community members interested in supporting Butler’s mission with their philanthropy. It is an honor to work with the incredible donors and to see the impact of their generosity come to life for Butler’s students and faculty members.
Raising money is a big part of your job. What have you learned about money?
One person’s desire to help others with their support can be life-changing. I’ve seen people, who were the first to attend college in their family, go on to have very successful careers and establish scholarships for future students. It’s pretty incredible to think about the pay it forward opportunities many have for others.
There are so many layers to your job. How are you able to manage so many projects at once?
I have had a number of management roles, but I’ve never had such amazing colleagues. I’m so fortunate. I don’t think I would be able to do everything I need to do if I didn’t have such great staff to work with. A lot of my work with them, it’s not necessarily management, it’s someone to brainstorm with or bounce ideas off of because they’re really great at their specific area of university advancement work.
Also, I live by my calendar. Everything is on my calendar. My co-workers know my calendar is an open book, all my family stuff is on there. So, my husband and two young daughters, everything that they do is all on the calendar. It just shows transparency and trust in my colleagues. If I go to a workout class after work, it’s all on my calendar. I have to have my calendar to stay organized.
Earlier you mentioned that you’re passionate about fundraising for higher education. What does education mean to you?
I’m passionate about affording others the opportunity to further their education. Once someone earns a degree of any sort, that’s theirs forever. No one can ever take that away. It’s such an accomplishment, and I want anyone that would be successful at Butler to have the opportunity to attend Butler. I’m very, very passionate about scholarship fundraising. But I just think that opportunity to go to a four-year undergraduate university are just critical. Not only from what you learn in the classroom but the mentor opportunities you have with different faculty and staff members on campus and just learning about yourself.
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What’s the first step for those who want to pursue higher education but are unsure about how they can afford it?
I would encourage anyone interested in pursuing education after high school to work with their guidance counselors and schedule a tour at a college of interest. All colleges have faculty and staff members dedicated to walking potential students through the application and financial aid process. There are many scholarships available for interested students and they can help make those connections.
What are the characteristics of an effective leader?
It’s very important to be a good listener. I think it’s important to listen and listen to their needs or how they prefer to work. You’ll form stronger relationships if you put in that extra time and investment to get to know them and how they like to work through things. I think it’s also really important to be creative. You have to be creative with your approach because things are always changing. Change is inevitable. And then the other thing I would say is I think it’s important for leaders to come alongside their staff members. It’s really important for me, I would never ask my team to do something I haven’t done, or I would not do.
What’s something people might be surprised to learn about you?
I grew up in Frankfort and my high school mascot was the Frankfort Hot Dog. But it’s not the hot dog you eat, it’s a dachshund. And I grew up with dachshund and now my husband and my daughters and I, we have two dachshunds.
What are some of your favorite places to grab a bite to eat around Indy or the Butler campus?
I love local places. I’m big on supporting locally-owned restaurants or stores. My favorite close to Butler is Illinois Street Food Emporium because I love their hazelnut coffee.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
My mom always told me, essentially, that life is too short. Always do what makes you happy and fulfills you. It’s so important to be happy and do what fulfills you and brings you joy. I tell my daughters that it’s important to be a cup filler and not a cup drainer. You have to surround yourself with people that fill your cup, not people that drain your cup.
Samantha Kupiainen is a regular Indy Maven contributor.
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