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Career & Professional Development

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Talking Shop: The Upside of Chaos
CURRENTS Article Joan Garry, principal of Joan Garry Consulting, believes the best nonprofits are like twin-engine jets. In advancement, the board chair and institution president are co-pilots. The staff and lead volunteer engines need to be strong, effective, and efficient. But, of course, there will always be turbulence. "If you haven't had a crisis at an institution, it's not because you're good—it's because you're lucky," she warns. The author of Joan Garry's Guide to Nonprofit Leadership, Garry shares advice on dealing with disorder.

Beware of Gifts That Eat
CURRENTS Article I can hardly believe that this year marks my 30th anniversary in the field of fundraising. Ever since I fell into a development job right out of college with my newly minted journalism degree, fundraising is pretty much the only thing I’ve done. When I haven’t been securing philanthropic gifts at work, I’ve been called into service at my church, the kids’ schools, and countless other worthwhile charitable endeavors. I guess I’m a one-trick pony in that regard. And I’ve loved every minute of it. Fundraising can also at times be heartbreaking, exasperating, counterintuitive, and consuming, but above all it’s gratifying. Between you and me, here’s some frank insight on less-discussed aspects of the profession.

Book [Club] Report—An Alumna’s View
CURRENTS Article CASE Online Communications Specialist Meredith Barnett has participated in her alma mater’s alumni-student book club for the past two years, leading discussions with incoming freshmen about the reading selections and talking with them about her own time as a student. Here’s her perspective on how books can spark connections.

Talking Shop: Raising Gifts, Sharing GIFs
CURRENTS Article Rory Green is a second-generation development officer—both of her parents were fundraisers—and the founder of Fundraiser Grrl, a cheeky crowdsourced blog about the rewarding, frustrating, and downright outlandish things fundraisers experience. Through the GIF-driven posts, fundraisers both celebrate and gripe about their professional lives. Face palms, snark, and funny tales abound.

Office Space: Grow Your Own Communications Talent
CURRENTS Article Duke ProComm, a professional development program for communicators at Duke University in North Carolina, trains communicators with varying levels of expertise and at different stages of their career. Many entry-level communicators arrive with a specific skill set, but in today's environment you need to know how to tell a story using text, images, audio, and video, and you must promote your work on a variety of platforms and channels. The ProComm program helps communicators enhance their skills, find mentors, and prepare for future communication opportunities.

Meet Brittany M. Weiss
CURRENTS Article Brittany M. Weiss is assistant director of alumni relations at Williston Northampton School, a coeducational boarding school for students in seventh grade through postgraduate year.

The Apprentices
CURRENTS Article With the Student Philanthropy Officer pilot program in York University's annual giving office, students can graduate from phonathon calls to face-to-face asks of alumni.

Outlook: Fully Committed
CURRENTS Article Good major gift officers leave for various reasons: poor leadership, lack of support, no options for promotion. But research shows they are willing to stay in less-than-ideal conditions when they're connected to the institution and feel their voice is heard.

Sowing Skills, Reaping Content
CURRENTS Article A year after CASE’s 2014 Multimedia Workshop, participants reflect on their successes and lessons learned—from the intricacies of on-camera interviews to growing audiences.

Career Cliffhanger
CURRENTS Article Women hold a growing percentage of leadership positions in higher education but remain a confounding minority at the highest levels, according to recent studies.

Office Space: The Art of Working Effectively
CURRENTS Article In this article, author and advancement professional Rob Crawford reflects on his 10-year-plus effort to manage his time and his workload more effectively and productively. The valuable lessons he has gleaned from management books as well as his own experiments offer useful advice for those looking to improve their work habits.

Getting There
CURRENTS Article Women make up two-thirds of the advancement workforce but still lag men in leadership positions and pay. At the same time, the overrepresentation of women in advancement raises concerns about what the lack of gender diversity may mean for the profession.

Office Space: Backing the Brand
CURRENTS Article This article discusses the Communicator Certificate Program at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Run by the institution's university relations department, the program is a series of professional development workshops designed for full-time employees who are involved in managing and communicating the Rutgers brand. The program is also open to any full-time or part-time staff member who wants to learn more about the university. A recent assessment of the program found that it is achieving its goals, making for more coordinated and effective campus communication.

Office Space: Investing in Your Own
CURRENTS Article This article looks at an internal professional development program in the Division of Development and Alumni Relations at Bucknell University. Such a program can not only help retain staff, but also help ensure they have the skills your institution values. In addition, these initiatives empower staff to contribute to one another's professional development, encourage collaboration, and acknowledge the skills and expertise within your office.

Closing Remarks: Mind the (Gender) Gap
CURRENTS Article This column looks at the persistent gender gap in salary and compensation within the advancement field and suggests what might be done to correct it.

Time to Rethink Alumni Leadership?
CURRENTS Article How institutions choose their alumni leaders is changing, and that's probably for the best.

Career Path: History Lesson
CURRENTS Article A fundraiser has found that her background in the university archives has helped her relate to donors and prospects. She recommends that all development officers forge a relationship with the campus archivist.

Manager's Portfolio: Making a Management Transition
CURRENTS Article Even when you have management experience, you face new staff, a new campus culture, and new challenges when you move to a different institution. This article by an advancement professional in that situation shares his plan and offers some practical tips.

Career Path: Perception Versus Reality
CURRENTS Article The author of this column sees a lot of people come to higher education fundraising from other careers. Frequently they initially have mistaken ideas of what the job will be like.

Manager's Portfolio: Attract Success
CURRENTS Article You might be able to achieve your goals more easily when you don't focus exclusively on your daily agenda. Be open and respond to serendipitous events. They could lead you to success.

Career Path: Your Next Campaign: You
CURRENTS Article Development professionals already know how to conduct a thorough job search--even if they don't know they know. This article explains how fund raising is similar to looking for a new job and provides tips on how to find the perfect new place of employment.

Advance Work: Better to Give Than Receive
CURRENTS Article Avoid international gift-giving gaffes with these tips from Lilya Wagner of Counterpart International.

Manager's Portfolio: Secrets to Powerful Presentations
CURRENTS Article In this article, an experienced presenter gives tips for making your presentations memorable and even moving. Such talks start with practice, are delivered with passion, and end with the audience taking away a call to action.

Mind Over Manners
CURRENTS Article This article, the second in a two-part series on etiquette, addresses the specifics of dining in settings that include a formal dinner, a banquet, and in a small group at a restaurant or home as well as the proper way to walk down the street, hold open a door, or enter and exit a taxicab.

Sense and Sensibility
CURRENTS Article Advancement officers constantly must be aware of what they do and say because they represent something bigger than themselves: their institutions. This article is the first in a two-part series designed to help advancement officers use proper etiquette when interacting with donors, alumni, faculty and staff colleagues, and other constituents. Part one documents the history of etiquette and provides a how-to guide for handling many common business and social situations. Part two, to be published in October, will address good table manners and other courtesies.

Managers Portfolio: I'm All Ears
CURRENTS Article Listening leadership means to guide yourself and others to positive results by enhanced sensing, interpreting, evaluating, storing, and responding to messages. Unfortunately, great listening is a rare management skill. To build a solid foundation for listening success, advancement managers should understand that listening is a primary communication activity; it’s an innate, learned, and improvable behavior; and that responsible and active listeners are productive listeners. Further, listening leaders constantly strive to improve their skills.

Career Path: The More You Know
CURRENTS Article What should advancement professionals at all levels and in all disciplines find out in a job interview before accepting the position for which they are interviewing? The author draws on her own experience jumping from a small, private school on the East Coast to a large public school on the West Coast (and back again) to explain why it’s important for job seekers to approach the interview as both a showcase for proving how talented they are and a comprehensive fact-finding mission. The alternative, Holthouser writes, is learning too late that the job--and the institution--are a poor match.

Portrait of a Profession
CURRENTS Article How has the entertainment industry characterized the advancement profession? Most film and television portrayals of development professionals rate somewhere between crass caricatures of greedy administrators and more nuanced depictions that poke holes in their integrity. Media portrayals of alumni relations and campus communications officers, meanwhile, are much harder to find. This article highlights some of the films and television programs that have contributed to the public's misperceptions of the advancement profession and asks advancement officers to weigh in on how such depictions impact their own work.

Career Path: A Date with Success
CURRENTS Article Busy advancement professionals often neglect professional development activities in favor of more "important" responsibilities. Here are 12 ideas to help even the most overtasked advancement officers squeeze professional development into their daily "to-do" lists.

Manager's Portfolio: Two Months to Think
CURRENTS Article A college vice president describes his two-month administrative leave, which contributed to significant changes in Bates College's alumni relations efforts.

Closing Remarks: Advancement's Siren Song
CURRENTS Article In this Closing Remarks column, a university editor and publications manager shares her feelings that, although advancement professionals are often underpaid, they are rewarded by a deep sense that what they are doing is important and intrinsically worthwhile. Further, the profession is great fun—especially for editors.

Manager's Portfolio: Five Budget-Busting Myths
CURRENTS Article Your job as a manager is to learn how to negotiate what you need so your programs and staff members can keep up the good work—even in tough times like these. There are five myths you need to overcome if you want to be one of the people who know where the money is.

Continuing and Graduate Education for Advancement
CURRENTS Article The primary challenge in compiling a list of education opportunities for advancement officers is that there is no academic field of "advancement."

Manager's Portfolio: Telling Tales In School
CURRENTS Article Storytelling is a powerful method of communication. Because many managers haven’t harnessed storytelling for its positive purposes, it has become primarily a way for employees to vent their unhappiness and cynicism. But when managers make storytelling a positive force in a work culture, they can have a tremendous impact on their institutions.

AdvanceWork: Strong Starts
CURRENTS Article You've heard it all before: Stand up straight, give a firm handshake, dress professionally, and look people in the eye — when culturally appropriate, of course.

Workshop: New Kid On the Block?
CURRENTS Article The author offers valuable tips for first-time development officers. Visiting recent donors, reviewing your institution’s files on major gift donors, and making the easy ask first are just a few of the pointers offered.

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