Take the time to step back, reflect and reaffirm key strategies for success in the competitive advancement field.

Conferences offer time for professional growth, rejuvenation, and reflection, and, if you are lucky, even a little relaxation. For me, attending the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) Summit for Advancement Leaders in New York City this July reaffirmed these four key strategies for success in the competitive advancement arena.

Take an integrated approach to fundraising and constituent relations: At Phoenix Philanthropy, we recommend to our higher education clients that good marketing and alumni relations lead good fundraising. That’s true, but there is more to the story. Colleges and universities – and nonprofit organizations in all sectors – benefit most when they integrate their brand development and marketing strategies with their constituent and alumni relations activities in order to ensure the optimal fundraising outcome.

Think expansively about resource development: In today’s competitive fundraising market, there’s no reason to limit your fundraising strategies to dated models and old definitions which are strictly philanthropic in nature. Take a more expansive approach to resource development in line with new concepts of social enterprise. Whether it’s pursuing innovative investment opportunities, commercializing intellectual or real property, or exploring entrepreneurial business models and opportunities, there is enormous opportunity to create additional financial resources through creative and expansive thinking.

Be global: Many colleges and universities operate in a global environment, with students and alumni from around the world, and programs and services being offered beyond their traditional borders or markets. I believe the same is true for most nonprofits large and small, even if your market is limited to one city or one state. Why? Our society is increasingly diverse – our key stakeholders and our clients are from many cultures and backgrounds. We need to think globally in order to understand, appeal to, and serve those clients whether your business is world-wide or focused on your local community. We then need to localize and customize our messaging and programs to each target group.

Leverage the power of the network: Our colleagues in the advancement world are a creative group. Network with and learn from one another, study best practices of comparable and competitive institutions, and share ideas and resources.

And remember, we’re your network too, so call us anytime to share ideas and creative solutions!


Richard Tollefson is President of The Phoenix Philanthropy Group.

January 2010