Publications & Products
Volume 3, Issue 11

Learn from a Peer Advancement Review

Two community college advancement leaders recently invited teams of their peers to identify strengths and weaknesses of their advancement programs.

The Foundation for Linn State Technical College in Linn, Mo., and the Tulsa Community College Foundation in Tulsa, Okla., were the first two organizations in the community college sector to participate in the CASE Peer Advancement Review Program—a new service available for a fee to CASE member institutions in the United States. A team of experienced advancement professionals—drawn from CASE member volunteers at similar institutions—recently came to their campuses for a confidential, independent review process.

Tulsa foundation officials opted for a discipline-specific review of their fundraising operations.

"We've had a lot of fundraising success and growth, but we want to create a structure that will serve us well in the future," says Lauren Brookey, Tulsa's vice president of external affairs. "Also, we've done single-year fundraising campaigns, but we want to gravitate to multi-year campaigns."

Linn State foundation officials chose to have a comprehensive review of their advancement operations, including fundraising, alumni relations, and communications and marketing.

"We want to increase outreach and solicitation," says Scott Peters, Linn State's executive director of development. "We're moving into a capital campaign ... and we have [an institutional] name change coming this summer. We wanted to get an evaluation of where our office was right now."

In addition to revealing critical strengths and weaknesses within their advancement programs, the foundation directors say the peer review process also resulted in some actionable recommendations and suggested direction.

For example, the review team at Tulsa pointed out that the foundation's strategic plan wasn't properly aligned with the college's strategic plan. Brookey notes that she is now working with college officials to harmonize the two plans in the coming year.

"The review process generated the kind of creative tensions we were hoping for," Brookey says. "At moments, did I go into a defensive posture? Yes. But the reality is, we wanted constructive feedback. Still, in other areas, it was also validating to know that [the team] was so complimentary of what we do. It showed us we're on the right track."

At Linn State, Peters says he learned that his foundation wasn't putting as much emphasis on staff and student giving as it should to generate future fundraising success. He notes that his office is now working on plans to educate students on the importance of giving before they leave campus and highlighting pledge opportunities for staff to give back.

"It was a great experience," Peters says. "It gave us a glimpse of what a development office looks like and what are the things we need to do to be successful."

For more information on the CASE Peer Advancement Review Program, contact Bob Sullivan, senior director of membership development, at 202-478-5560 or email

This article is from the May 2014 issue of the Community College Advancement News.

Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) © 1996 - 2018