Advancement Blog

3 must-read insights for advancement leaders

From our National Meeting Series

By Whitney Wilson

Changes in donor needs and expectations have affected all aspects of the giving pipeline.

Alumni populations have become more diverse, while advancement offices have struggled to identify and retain diverse talent. Alumni see their donations as investments and the problems they want to tackle increasingly require advancement to partner with academic faculty. Loyalty alone no longer drives donations, which requires communicating the case for support across multiple channels over longer time periods. To properly prepare for the future, advancement teams must make changes to keep up.

Solving these pain points has become an imperative. In the research presented at this year’s Advancement Forum national meeting series, we discuss solutions to the following problems and more:

1. Advancement is ill-equipped to meet the alumni expectation of the "Amazon experience"

For-profits regularly use marketing automation, omnichannel campaigns, and artificial intelligence tactics to interact with customers. This has raised constituent expectations, making it harder for advancement to meet constituents’ wants, win their mindshare, and acquire and retain them as donors.

Advancement must customize engagement, synchronize cultivation points, and adapt digital lessons for higher education to keep up with an ever evolving marketing playbook.

How to personalize fundraising communications in the Amazon era

2. Advancement’s typical recruitment techniques do not yield diverse, qualified candidates

Diverse teams are more innovative and better reflect changing student and alumni demographics. Despite diversity’s benefits, the advancement profession has historically struggled to diversify their ranks. As colleges and universities graduate more diverse students, advancement must invest in efforts to diversify their own staff too.

Advancement should take a proactive and creative approach to their recruitment efforts by looking beyond traditional candidates to find and attract qualified, diverse staff.

To bring diverse perspectives into development, start with staff training

3. Competition for major gifts requires advancement to increasingly rely on academic partners

Donors expect their gifts to have transformative impacts. They crave hands-on engagement and desire deep institutional relationships. It’s necessary to involve academic partners to provide critical information and engagement to meet those expectations. However, provosts, deans, and department chairs face increasing demands on their time, which diverts their focus away from the highest-ROI fundraising activities. Moving forward, advancement must effectively engage and incorporate academic partners in the stewardship and cultivation phases to maximize fundraising efforts.

Why faculty fear fundraising—and what you can do about it

It's tough to engage alumni. Learn how to have a high-impact advancement engagement campaign.

In today's challenging advancement environment, advancement leaders are seeking new, innovative ways to engage alumni. Download our research brief to learn how to guide high-impact alumni engagement through digital programming and targeted volunteer opportunities.

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