Isaac Thweatt—Director of Alumni Outreach
American University—Washington, D.C.
United States
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Boards

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What’s the Idea?
CURRENTS Article Aimee Griffiths, director of alumnae relations for Ursuline Academy of Dallas, recently restructured her alumnae board and shares a short lesson.

On Board with Giving
CURRENTS Article Top volunteers want to be engaged in productive activities. But how do you accomplish this, especially with high-level volunteers such as campaign steering committee members? Start with a good infrastructure, writes Penelepe Hunt, a former development vice chancellor who is now a consultant. Decide how often the group will meet, set attendance expectations, and write good job descriptions. Hunt provides additional suggestions for crafting effective volunteer engagement.

Aboveboard
CURRENTS Article College and university boards of trustees encounter a number of ethical issues on occasion, such as institutional contracts that are awarded to board members and boards that pressure an institution to accept gifts that go against its values. This article provides advice to advancement leaders on how to navigate these landmines with a focus on how they can educate their boards about ethics.

Swifter, Sharper, Stronger
CURRENTS Article A growing number of chief alumni officers are striving to make the alumni board a more strategic entity. To achieve this, chief alumni officers recommend aligning the alumni board's goals with the institution's goals, rethinking the board's membership and nominating process, and making the board's work meaningful to alumni and the institution. The end result is a more positive experience for alumni relations' VIPs: the volunteers.

Stepping Forward
CURRENTS Article Dwindling state financial support, demands to improve student performance, and the need to adapt to a fast-changing online educational landscape are putting pressure on public higher education institutions and their leaders. Boards of trustees are concerned about the future of their institutions and are taking on a more active role.

Communicating Up
CURRENTS Article This article examines the benefits to the institution, the board, and the communications operation when the chief communicator has a relationship with the institution's governing board, whether direct or indirect.

Office Space: Personal Invitations
CURRENTS Article The LGBT community is growing in visibility and formal acceptance. How can institutions better welcome and integrate this community into their educational advancement efforts?

The Mindful Development Officer
CURRENTS Article Veteran advancement officer Deb Taft offer tips for reaching out to diverse alumni and volunteers and ensuring they're involved in meaningful ways.

Office Space: We Know Better
CURRENTS Article Keep board members informed, give them meaningful work, and show them appreciation in order to leave board members with a favorable view of and quite possibly increase their engagement (in terms of volunteerism and financial gifts) with your institution.

Odds and Ends: The Giving Kind
CURRENTS Article Devoted philanthropists John and Tashia Morgridge talk to CURRENTS about the importance of writing small checks and the challenge of giving large gifts in a public manner, offer advice on how to become informed and engaged philanthropists, discuss possible changes to the U.S. charitable giving deduction, and reminisce about some of the projects they've helped make possible.

Odds and Ends: Woman on Board
CURRENTS Article In this interview with CURRENTS, best-selling author and Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Anna Quindlen talks about her board service to her alma mater, Barnard College.

Arm in Arm
CURRENTS Article From recruitment to orientation and beyond, development professionals should be deeply involved with members of their institution's board of trustees. But too often advancement officers treat board members like "hot potatoes," and are reluctant to touch them. This article explains why it is important for the development office to embrace working with the board and offers tips on how to do so effectively.

Advance Work: Better with Age
CURRENTS Article The alumni relations director at Siena Heights University created a new advisory group for former board members in response to their desire to remain engaged.

Advance Work: A Boon from ­T. Boone
CURRENTS Article The story behind T. Boone Pickens’ $25 million gift to the University of Calgary.

Drawn to Perfection
CURRENTS Article Alumni association leadership and operations change through the years, but often the board structure, or even members, do not. This article discusses how to create the best board for your institution.

Work in Progress: Meeting of Minds
CURRENTS Article Remember good old parliamentary rules of order? The rules are alive and well, and they can help keep meetings from veering off subject, dissolving into personal debates, and failing to reach a decision. Author Nancy Sylvester, a certified professional parliamentarian, describes in practical terms how to apply Robert's Rules for the benefit of all meeting participants.

First Class Leadership
CURRENTS Article All alumni volunteers are important, but the ones that serve on your board and advocate for the institution with legislators need to be recruited and trained with care.

As the World Turns
CURRENTS Article Development is a relatively recent activity in European independent schools, which have unique cultural and historical challenges regarding fundraising. This article describes what the challenges are and how several schools abroad are overcoming them. One important strategy is having a strong development team made up of the head of school, the board chair, and the development director. Each has a specific and critical role to play.

Confessions of a Bad Board Member
CURRENTS Article No alumni professional wants a bad board member on the alumni board. With some planning, forethought, and honest conversations, the alumni board can be on track and working for the institution.

Givers and Getters
CURRENTS Article With increased competition for public and private monies, boards of higher education institutions are becoming more involved in fundraising. This article describes how board members can contribute by seeking as well as donating gifts. It also lays out some strategies for selecting and managing the best-suited volunteers to serve on these important groups.

Closing Remarks: Just Ask
CURRENTS Article Advancement officers should engage governing boards in strategic discussions. Governance expert Richard T. Ingram suggests beginning with five key issues: philanthropy, image management, affiliated foundation relations, donor involvement, and corporate partnerships. He also offers other ways to inform trustees about advancement and to make room for such topics on crowded meeting agendas.

AdvanceWork: The Ayes Have It
CURRENTS Article Dartmouth College alumni vote annually to choose alumni representatives to the college’s board. In 2000, the alumni staff began offering alumni the option to vote online, both to simplify vote-counting and to promote voter participation. Although participation did not increase in the first year of online voting, it remained steady, and more than one-third of voters used the online option. Officials hope the shift will also reduce election costs.

Alumni at the Wheel
CURRENTS Article Ladner was president of Rollins College’s alumni association board when the college began a major revitalization of the board’s membership, structure, and function. In this brief account, which accompanies a larger article on the board restructuring process, he reflects on the transition from a traditional association model to a modern, working board.

Full Speed Ahead
CURRENTS Article As Rollins College headed into a campaign, officials realized the alumni association needed a stronger board. A three-year restructuring effort changed the board from a homogenous, mostly social group of 15 people to a diverse, active group of 30. The board adopted a businesslike approach, defined its mission and vision, and set measurable goals and strategies. Thanks to the new board, alumni giving, reunion attendance, and program participation have all increased.

AdvanceWork: Anatomy of a Board
CURRENTS Article Six types of volunteer leaders your campus needs

Mastering the Maze
CURRENTS Article In the United States, charitable solicitation is regulated by the federal government but also by many state, county, and local governments. This article describes four areas of regulation with which fund raisers should be aware: registration, maintaining and providing records, telemarketing and direct mail, and trustee conduct.

Back on Track
CURRENTS Article Weerts offers seven suggestions to recharge an alumni board: 1) Recruit well, 2) Communicate the board’s purpose early and often, 3) Don’t underestimate board members’ commitment, 4) Let board members address important problems, 5) Give everyone a chance to speak, 6) Make board participation a learning experience, and 7) Ask students for feedback on important issues.

Who's in Charge?
CURRENTS Article Debra Beck discusses alumni boards and the myths vs. realities surrounding them. She examines the traditional, hierarchical structure of alumni boards and offers alumni associations alternatives to them.

Groups Dynamic
CURRENTS Article Successful development committees share several traits. They have: 1) a clear charge; 2) a dynamic chair; 3) the board volunteers with the most clout; 4) provide a strong orientation and training program for the committee members; and 5) direct interaction with the president or head of the institution. In addition, effective committees have substantive, rather than aimless meetings, clear and frequent communication between meetings, and substantive work assignments. A sidebar article suggests ways of dealing with common development committee problems, such as handling volunteers who won't give a charitable gift, or avoiding the post-campaign doldrums. The composition and responsibilities of the Swarthmore College development committee are presented as an example of what is expected of these members.

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