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President’s Perspective: An Open Letter to My Successor
President’s Perspective: An Open Letter to My Successor

Some key things you should know about CASE

By John Lippincott

Editor's note: This is John Lippincott's final column as he prepares to retire from the CASE presidency after 11 years in that role. At the time he wrote this column, his successor had not yet been identified.

Dear [insert name here]:

Congratulations on your appointment as the ninth president of CASE. I know that the search committee had a very strong pool of candidates from which to choose, so you clearly bring stellar credentials to the position.

As you prepare to take on this new role, I would like to offer some unsolicited advice based on my experience as CASE's longest-serving president, in the sincere hope that you will shatter that record. For what they are worth, here are my views on CASE's key assets, strategic issues, near-term opportunities, and perennial challenges.

The key assets of this organization include a well-regarded and widely recognized brand; a mission that is noble and growing in importance; a vast cadre of highly committed and collegial volunteers; a talented, energetic, and dedicated staff in Washington, London, Singapore, and Mexico City; a network of more than 70,000 advancement professionals in some 80 countries; strong working relationships with partner organizations; and a solid financial foundation.

What, then, are some of the strategic issues you are likely to face as CASE's next president? I'll highlight just three:

  • The long-term priorities for the organization are due to be reviewed and refreshed in light of ongoing changes in the advancement profession. The CASE trustees and senior staff have held preliminary discussions about a strategic framework that includes strengthening CASE's position as a community of communities, a knowledge hub, a global gateway, and a service broker.

  • CASE's hybrid membership model—a combination of institutional and individual memberships—has also been the subject of ongoing discussions with the CASE board. The current model, while not broken, would benefit from a re-examination focused on enhancing the value proposition and ensuring appropriate levels of service for all members.

  • CASE's significant growth and development as a global organization raise important questions about our existing governance structure. The CASE Board has recommended a deliberate re-examination over time of its own role, as well as the roles of the CASE Europe Board, the CASE Asia-Pacific Advisory Council, and the CASE América Latina Advisory Group, to ensure appropriate levels of oversight at the national, regional, and international levels.

Those are three long-term strategic issues facing CASE. Here are three near-term opportunities:

  • A task force of CASE staff, advised by a group of key volunteers, is currently developing a set of recommendations on ways in which we could significantly enhance our programming in support of the educational marketing discipline.

  •  In keeping with our commitment to serve institutional CEOs, we are in active discussions with Harvard about reviving an advancement institute for college and university presidents.

  • CASE is well positioned to leverage our global presence in support of fundraising across borders by, among other things, facilitating tax-advantaged gifts from donors to institutions outside their home countries.

And what are some of the perennial challenges? Again, I will mention just three:

  • As long as the market for advancement programs, products, and services is strong, there will always be competitors for the time, attention, and resources of our members. Whether those competitors are for-profit firms, other associations, or informal groups, CASE should view competition as healthy and collaboration as worthy of careful consideration.

  • We have made modest progress toward our long-standing goal of increasing the diversity of advancement professionals. That modest progress is a reminder both that we can make a difference and that we still have a long way to go.

  • Advancement is a rapidly changing profession, so we at CASE must continually update and refresh our services in order to stay relevant. Doing so requires an organizational culture that fosters nimbleness, responsiveness, and creativity.

What might I suggest that you, as CASE president, do about all of this? Simply put, leverage CASE's key assets to address the strategic issues, seize the opportunities, and surmount the challenges. Above all else, keep the focus on service to members.

I wish you every success and would like to make one humble request: Please be kind to the CASE staff and volunteers around the world. I am going to miss them terribly but will take some comfort in knowing that they have a new friend in the corner office.

Oh, one last thought … I learned early on as president that it was important for me to get out of the way and allow staff and volunteers to make great things happen. With that in mind, I promise to get out of your way.

Of course, given my abiding dedication and deep gratitude to this organization, I stand ready to help you in whatever ways I can. Just in case you do want to contact me, I carved my phone number into the top of your desk.



About the Author John Lippincott John Lippincott

John Lippincott served as president of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education from 2004 through 2015.




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