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Institutional Advancement: Strengthening sustainability and growth in schools and universities

How Institutional Advancement can strengthen sustainability and growth in colleges and universities.

In this article, we will explore the importance of Institutional Advancement in schools and universities and how it can contribute to strengthening sustainability and growth. Discover how creating a department specialized in fundraising, alumni relations, communications, and marketing can generate lasting connections, financial resources, and expand the educational program.

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Institutional Advancement: Strengthening sustainability and growth in colleges and universities

Institutional Advancement, or only Advancement, has been an integral part of educational organizations in Europe and the United States for centuries, allowing the creation of programs and projects that enrich the experiences of millions of students. However, in Latin America, this practice is less formalized, and few schools and universities have a structured department to lead initiatives in the areas of fundraising, alumni relations, communication, and marketing. This is largely due to budget constraints and possibly a lack of knowledge about the potential benefits and steps needed to begin this process.

It is crucial for the sustainability of any educational institution to create an Advancement department in which professionals focus on designing strategies and actions that add value to the community and generate engagement with the institution from parents, graduates, and family members.

In practice, the responsibilities of the Advancement department are usually dispersed in other areas, where those in charge do not have adequate training in these specific and relevant activities for any school or university. We often see the communications department handle fundraising activities while the admissions staff handles alumni relations. This occurs without a common strategy that brings the institution closer to the multiple potential benefits that come with having a well-structured and trained Advancement department to achieve the organization's sustainability and growth objectives.

Consequently, some institutions do not have a robust and updated database with the contact information and achievements of their graduates, which limits their ability to connect and engage them. Additionally, they are missing the opportunity to generate additional income to support the expansion of their educational program and enrich their students' learning experiences. To maximize the potential of a department specialized in these tasks, it is essential to have an efficient system to collect, store, and use graduates' information, thus allowing the establishment of lasting relationships and encouraging their financial support and active participation in the institution's development.

What are the advantages of having an Advancement department? Below are some benefits based on successful experiences:

Establish clear leadership: It is essential to have a trained and committed leader who understands the importance of Institutional Advancement and can articulate a strategic vision for the institution.

Integrate key functions: It is recommended that the areas of fundraising, alumni relations, and communication and marketing be centralized in the same department. This will promote effective synergy and ensure a coherent strategy across all activities.

Develop a strategic plan: A plan that defines the objectives, goals, and strategies to follow in each area of Advancement must be developed. This will allow an orderly and measurable execution of activities.

Cultivate lasting relationships: It is essential to establish solid connections with parents, graduates, employees, companies, and other relevant stakeholders. This involves maintaining constant communication, offering opportunities for participation, and recognizing their contribution in a meaningful way.

Promote a culture of giving: Educating the community about the importance of giving back and its impact on the institution is essential. Recognition programs, fundraising campaigns, and community engagement activities can be implemented to foster a culture of support and generosity.

Ultimately, Institutional Advancement strengthens sustainability and growth in schools and universities. By creating this department focused on fundraising, alumni relations, and communication & marketing, lasting connections are established, financial resources are generated, and the educational program is expanded. Also, it is essential to have committed leadership, a strategic plan, and the cultivation of strong relationships. Investing in Institutional Advancement is investing in the future of the institution, building a committed and active community for success and continuous progress.

Vielka Morales de Aquino

Institutional Advancement Consultant

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