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Fundraising Fundamentals, Section 9.1

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Partnering with Other Advancement-related Departments

Advancement is a broad term that can cover many (largely externally facing) functions, such as:

  • Development,
  • Fundraising,
  • Alumni relations,
  • Marketing,
  • Communications,
  • Public relations,
  • External relations,
  • Enterprise and commercialisation,
  • Community relations,
  • Government relations and
  • International relations.
Why You Should Collaborate

To be effective, fundraising professionals need to understand the purpose and activities of these other functions – whether these functions are under one office or many within the institution. Strong communication and a spirit of collaboration among these functions will enable an institution to:

  • Identify and cultivate more prospects,
  • Maximise resources and opportunities (e.g., shared events, publications),
  • Present to the outside world a professional, united front,
  • Concentrate collective effort on areas of greatest benefit for the institution,
  • Develop an integrated advancement strategy and
  • Encourage supporters toward institution-wide relationships rather than relations with individual staff.

Linking Activities

As you begin to understand the goals and activities of other advancement-related departments, you will find countless ways to incorporate fundraising efforts whilst helping these departments achieve their own goals.

Alumni events will be held, magazine and press releases will be written, community outreach will take place, regardless of development goals. Why not have these efforts support your fundraising cultivation and stewardship efforts?

Here are some ways to partners with other departments::

  • Include a fundraising ‘ask’ at alumni events, or at least collect updated contact information and areas of interest to determine potential prospects.
  • Feature a new project on your website, in your alumni magazine or in a press release to lay the foundation for an upcoming campaign appeal.
  • Use postings on a Facebook page to challenge alumni to raise funds (and give regular updates).
  • Work with colleagues in the enterprise and commercialisation office to broaden relationships with corporate partners (e.g., do  the partners have a charitable foundation?).

Internally, institutions can support cross-function co-operation by:

  • Developing a single contacts database,
  • Encouraging the sharing of data,
  • Creating formal and informal opportunities for colleagues to share information and advance joint initiatives (e.g. a monthly meeting with all advancement-related departments to share significant goals and activities and to determine how to best leverage and collaborate on mutual goals),
  • Rewarding co-operation,
  • Providing opportunities for cross-training and secondments,
  • Physically co-locating different functions,
  • Sharing common functions, such as administration and financial processing, between functions and
  • Merging the reporting lines of related functions.


Action Item

  • The director of development should determine with other directors of advancement-related departments how they can regularly interact to best share information and collaborate on mutual goals and activities so that every department is maximising its time, resources and results.


You Might Also Want to Read:

The role and importance of alumni relations
Key working relationships and links with other departments

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CASE provides information about advancement and the various disciplines, including samples, research, tools, publications and other products that may be helpful as you connect development efforts with other advancement-related activities.

McWilliams describes how her department collaborates with other advancement offices within her institution.
Leisl Elder, former director of development at the University of Edinburgh, stresses the importance of partnering with other departments, such as communications and alumni relations, to have the same message.
Chris Cox, director of development and alumni relations at the University of Manchester, gives advice on how to effectively combine development and alumni relations departments.