Publications & Products
Fundraising Fundamentals, Section 4.3


Championing the Office Internally

Without the support and co-operation of academic and non-academic colleagues across the institution, the development office will fail to thrive.

New development offices often face resistance from colleagues who do not have the time or inclination to engage with development. It essential that the institution’s leader and other opinion formers are vocal and visible champions for development and create mechanisms to embed it within the working life and culture of the institution.

Making development part of your institution’s culture can be achieved in several ways:

  • Provide training for senior staff by offering training days, away days at comparable institutions either in your country or overseas, lunchtime seminars, presentations at staff meetings.
  • Give them the time to get involved. Most people are busy and have little capacity for new activities. Line managers should be encouraged to allow staff to find the time to prioritise development activities.
  • Reward involvement. Involvement in development activities could count toward promotion. When gifts come in, all those involved in the fundraising process should be acknowledged.
  • Embed development in existing activities, such as strategic or operational planning at the departmental level.
  • Celebrate fundraising success internally so that staff can see that their support of development activities has value not just to the institution but to their own working lives.
  • Talk freely, openly and proudly about the fundraising aspirations of the institution.
  • Include fundraising messages at public speaking engagements. Leave no one in any doubt that this is a priority for the institution’s leadership.
  • Don’t worry about winning everyone in one go. Identify one or two deans and faculties who are supportive and instruct the development office to work closely with them. Seeing the success of others can have a powerful influence, changing the views of less supportive colleagues.

Also encourage the development office to:

  • Make it easy for staff to get involved through simple, straightforward mechanisms (e.g., a simple online form where staff can send the development office the details about a new contact).
  • Partner with marketing and PR to have features in staff newsletters and on the intranet, travelling road shows or exhibitions around building foyers, etc.
  • Give examples of successful engagement through case studies and peer-to-peer briefings.
  • Organize staff visits.

Without the support of senior staff, development efforts become an isolated, ‘bolt on’ activity whose progress is stymied by uninterested colleagues and a lack of conviction.

Action Item
  • Start with a few key institutional leaders as your development champions and work with them on a few key tactics that will have the greatest impact at your institution. Build momentum from there.

You Might Also Want to Read:

The value of fundraising in an educational context
Common objections and their rebuttals
Leaders and academics as fundraisers
Articulating the vision and setting the priorities
Role of leaders and academics in the cultivation process
The role of academic colleagues
The case for support

Penne talks about development as storytelling and adapting lessons learned at CASE to her culture.
Shirley Pearce, vice-chancellor at Loughborough University, talks about establishing an effective advancement function into an institutional strategic plan and getting buy-in.
Shirley Pearce recalls the first steps she took to create her development team, beginning with training at CASE.
Fiona McWilliams, director of external relations and development at the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies, talks about restarting a development office.
Pompeius talks about marketing to international students now that many pay fees.
Eric Thomas, president and vice chancellor at the University of Bristol, discusses key messages development professionals need to communicate to vice-chancellors.
McCallum talks about how to involve academics in development as curators and leaders of institutions.
Silvennoinen addresses the challenges of fundraising outside the U.S. and the importance of having internal champions within your institution.