Gratitude is the Cornerstone of David DeWitt’s Career
Gratitude can be expressed in a myriad of ways but it must always be genuine and sincere. Spend just a few moments with David DeWitt, IU Southeast’s director of development, and you will immediately sense his passion, energy, and sincerity for expressing gratitude.
“First and foremost, I am in the ‘thank-you’ business,” said DeWitt. “I don’t view my job as strictly fundraising, it’s much more about relationship building. It’s a real privilege for me to meet and connect with IU Southeast alumni and friends of the school and hear about their experiences and memories. There is a lot of pride that people have for the institution of IU Southeast.”
David DeWitt mingling at the Distinguished Alumni reception.
David DeWitt presenting at the Founders Day luncheon.
Busting Misconceptions about Fundraising and Development
Most folks have a preconceived notion about the job of a development director, including DeWitt himself. After graduating from Franklin College with a Bachelor’s degree in journalism, the college president initially approached DeWitt to consider a planned giving job because of his good people skills.
“My first thought was that I didn’t want to ask people for money,” said DeWitt. “However, the president felt like my skill set would be a great match for the profession. I learned this field is really more about relationships and not so much about always asking for money. I had a wonderful mentor who taught me the technical aspects of development and the ins and outs of navigating conversations with people about how and what they would like to contribute or gift during the different stages of their lives.”
DeWitt settled into the job and continued to expand his skills and knowledge by earning a Master’s degree from Indiana Wesleyan University. DeWitt has spent his entire career as a development professional with the majority of that time at universities throughout Indiana.
When he landed at IU Southeast in 2017, he received a warm reception from alumni and donors.
“The people, which included alumni or retired faculty, that I was reaching out to with cold calls were very open and willing to meet with me,” said DeWitt. “They would welcome a visit from me and would be much more accepting of discussing how they could get involved. I think that is just a wonderful tribute to the school. There are just good folk in Southern Indiana and a lot of them are on our campus.”
DeWitt is always on the go, meeting with alumni, donors and others interested in the daily happenings on campus. A good portion of DeWitt’s time is spent just touching base with donors and keeping everyone in the loop on all the changes and developments on campus.
“I have a general rule of thumb - if I’m behind my desk, I am not doing my job,” said DeWitt. “I do much of my business face to face over coffee, breakfast or lunch. I just have conversations with people and tell them about what is going on at IU Southeast and answer their questions. It’s our way as a department to show our appreciation for any gifts that someone has donated. Yes, we could put that in a letter or call you on the phone, but I like to recognize it in a more personal way.”
David DeWitt at the Distinguished Alumni reception.
David DeWitt attending the Fall Fling event.
The Personal Impact of Major Gifts
DeWitt reflected that one of the best parts of his job is sharing how impactful and meaningful major gifts can be to IU Southeast and its students. One of the more popular ways to cultivate this impact is to set up scholarships that align with the values of the donors.
“It is very powerful when a donor gets to meet their scholarship recipient,” said DeWitt. “When a student tells you ‘thank you’ in person and tells you that they might not have been able to enroll without the scholarship, that moment really solidifies why donors invest in IU Southeast.”
Off the Clock and On the Court
When DeWitt is not busy meeting with donors and constituents, you can find him on the basketball court. He has been a licensed Indiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) basketball official for the past 14 years refereeing high school boys and girls varsity basketball games. Overall, he has over 20 years of officiating experience.
“I enjoy it because it keeps my legs young and my mind alert,” said DeWitt. “There’s no other place that’s better for basketball than the state of Indiana. The energy and intensity of these high school games and their fans continues to draw me in.”
If you are interested in learning how you can make a donation or major gift, feel free to contact DeWitt at email@example.com or call (812) 941-2569.