Major Gift Philanthropy + Corporate Sponsorship
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Calgary’s SAIT Polytechnic provides skill-oriented education to more than 75,000 students yearly. In 2007, SAIT embarked on an ambitious campaign with an initial goal of raising $75 million towards the construction of its state-of-the-art Trades and Technology Complex.

SAIT’s Promising Futures™ Campaign Cabinet engaged Give Canada to provide strategic outside counsel specifically related to the securing of major gifts and naming opportunities for the Trades and Technology Complex.


SAIT-Polytechnic-Trades-Technology-Complex-Give-Canada-Post-logoGive Canada’s thorough six-month feasibility study revealed that SAIT was in the fortunate position of having a number of excellent potential high net worth donors, many of whom had been well stewarded and were highly engaged with the institution.

At the same time, the design of the overall Trades and Technology complex was changing; originally designed to be one overall complex, now three separate buildings were to be created. Give Canada grasped the opportunity the design change afforded, believing that three separate naming opportunities instead of an overall one, would attract additional transformational leadership donors to SAIT and would provide higher overall fundraising revenue.

SAIT heartily endorsed Give Canada’s major gift naming plan. Give Canada worked directly with a strong campaign cabinet and SAIT’s senior management team. Give Canada determined realistic valuations for the complex’s new buildings and created a unique definition of SAIT’s ideal donor. “In some cases we worked behind the scenes as a strategic advisor in the stewarding of key donors towards the Trades and Technology Complex opportunities. In other cases, we worked directly with the donor. Having a friendly facilitator can be a highly effective strategy when the donor is so close to the institution. In all cases though, our objective is to ensure the institution and donor’s values, needs and timing are all aligned. The process needs to be comfortable for both parties,” said Give Canada President, Dale Boniface.

“We folded into their exceptional capital campaign team and earned their trust early, it was that level of trust and teamwork that enabled us to greatly surpass SAIT’s expectations and secure significant transformational leadership gifts for the new complex.”

Johnson Cobbe Building 2



Thanks in part to Give Canada’s assistance in facilitating key major naming gifts towards the new complex’s three significant buildings, The Promising Futures™ Campaign closed $17 million above its goal in 2012.

In total, Give Canada’s strategic counsel assisted SAIT in raising more than $32 million through naming recognition gifts at the Trades and Technology Complex. Some of the details of these generous gifts are detailed below:

  • The Aldred Centre was named after John and Cheryl Aldred who provided $15 million in support of the polytechnic education in Alberta. John Aldred had been a long-time board member at SAIT, and was the Co Chair of the Promising Futures™ capital campaign. Through Give Canada’s unique process John recognized himself in the definition created of SAIT’s ‘ideal donor’. He and Cheryl chose to make the largest gift ever to any Canadian polytechnic. However, the Aldreds are not a family who sought public profile in their giving and as such, were reticent to ‘name’ a building. Based on the level of trust established between the parties, Give Canada was able to work with the Aldreds and explain the importance of leadership and lending the prestigious Aldred name to SAIT. This would not only raise the bar for further leadership gifts to SAIT and to other Canadian post secondary institutions; but it would significantly boost the profile and status of polytechnic education.
  • Two storied alumni committed a total of $10 million to SAIT. A uniquely creative solution, developed by Give Canada and supported by the chair of the Capital Campaign, combined the vision and resources of two generous philanthropic families. The Johnson-Cobbe Energy Centre was named in recognition of transformational leadership gifts by David and Barbara Johnson, and Murray and Connie Cobbe. A special bond was created to the benefit of all parties, enhancing the education of SAIT students within the energy sector.

Johnson Cobbe Building

  • A further gift of $7 million by successful alumnus and philanthropist Stan Grad and his wife Jane, for the Stan Grad Centre, took SAIT’s campaign over its originally-stated public goal of $75 million. Give Canada, which had built this scenario into SAIT’s overall fundraising strategy, played an integral role in concluding this major gift, facilitating the relationship on behalf of both parties. A unique aspect of Stan and Jane’s generosity was the additional naming of the Reg Erhardt Library, in honor of Grad’s former SAIT instructor and lifelong mentor.

SAIT’s highly successful partnership with Give Canada led Brian Bowman, Director, Alumni & Development, to invite Dale Boniface to jointly present at a CASE (Council for Advancement and Support of Education) conference in 2014. Their presentation told the story of how SAIT effectively worked with outside counsel to augment its fundraising capacity and why the relationship was so effective.

Working with Give Canada was a pleasure and a significant part of our success. Their strategic counsel on securing significant naming gifts, professionalism in their approach, and expertise in many aspects of donor cultivation and solicitation proved indispensable.

Brian Bowman — Director Alumni & Development, SAIT Polytechnic