SOAS, University of London

Embedding professional fundraising at SOAS, University of London – now the recipient of one of the largest ever gifts to the humanities in UK higher education


SOAS, University of London, is the world’s leading institution for the study of Asia, Africa and the Middle East


Although SOAS had a fundraising department, development had never been a central strategic pillar. The organisation needed support with building the department – and internal credibility.

Project dates
2009 to 2015 (and ongoing)

Fiona McWilliams, former Director of External Relations and Development at SOAS, says:
“In November 2013, SOAS was all over the news. We had just received a £20 million gift from the Alphawood Foundation to support our work on Southeast Asian art and a planned campus expansion.

“And yet, six years earlier, although we had received some big one-off gifts, professional development had never become embedded. The function still felt new. That was when Rebecca came in to help get the department up and running – and our colleagues on side. She and I worked with academics across SOAS to shape a proposal, which eventually resulted in gifts totalling £2.4 million. Thanks to that, we gained the internal credibility to build the department further.

“More Partnership also did two feasibility studies, which helped us put the right structures in place. And now fundraising is central to the institutional strategy.

“The lesson is that good, joined-up fundraising creates virtuous circles. The publicity from the Alphawood gift raised SOAS’s profile. It also led to 90 applications for scholarships… which put the institution in an even better position to raise more money for more scholarships. SOAS is now embarking on a Centenary Campaign to take fundraising to the next level. The future is looking very positive indeed.”

What happened next

More Partnership is continuing to help across several areas including major gifts and campaign planning.