CASE Partnership with GG+A Focuses on Research to Enhance Advancement
CASE has recently partnered with GG+A (Grenzebach Glier and Associates) to sponsor an annual symposium designed to showcase active research and innovation across the field of advancement.
The partnership, says CASE President and CEO Sue Cunningham, “is rooted in a shared passion about the critical importance of the advancement of education and the immense value of bringing together research and practice to determine how we move our work forward for the betterment of education.”
The CASE—GG+A Research and Advanced Practices Symposium will be an annual program at CASE Summit for Leaders in Advancement. The first symposium took place in July at Summit in Chicago.
More than two years since the start of the global pandemic, the topic for the 2022 symposium, “Remote Engagement,” continues to be top of mind for advancement professionals. The two-part session at July’s Summit explored how Zoom is being adapted and more effectively utilized in a post-pandemic workplace.
Data Insights from Zoom
David Palmer, Vice President of Advancement at University of Toronto, and Ted Brodheim, Global CIO Advisor at Zoom, led the first discussion, “Data and Insights from Zoom.”
Palmer issued a challenge to his advancement colleagues at the symposium. “We live in a world beset by challenges to our health, the sustainability of our planet, and to the pursuit of equitable cities and just societies,” he said. “We in advancement have an imperative and that’s to make the world better for ourselves and for the generations to follow. We are now in a place where technologies like Zoom are no longer a band aid to sustain business operations during a time of crisis. These are powerful technologies that enable change and innovation in an evolving and flexible work environment.”
When the world turned to Zoom more than two years ago to keep their organizations running, the team at Zoom gathered anonymized usage metrics, sent out a survey and aggregated data to look at how people connected using Zoom. Brodheim shared how Zoom is using the data to consider how the technology might evolve.
The data collected from 2020 to 2021 show that there is a democratization that these tools allow in terms of treating everyone on the screen equally. “It doesn’t matter where you sit at the table,” said Brodheim, who added this has implications for DEIB and for managers to think about broader opportunities for inclusivity.
The data show that the average length of a Zoom meeting is 54 minutes. Brodheim predicted that will come down significantly as people realize they don’t need to schedule a formal meeting to use Zoom, and instead get comfortable with making unscheduled calls to colleagues, just as they would stop by a coworker’s desk without notice if they were both in the office.
For the first year of the pandemic, Zoom users were in crisis mode, now they are thinking about the “intentionality” of the platform, said Brodheim. “What’s changed is people’s level of comfort with and intentional use of the tools.”
Brodheim pointed to cameras that look at a room where people are gathered in person and put them in an individual box on screen. That allows remote attendees to feel they are on an even playing field and thus are more comfortable participating. Other new tools include real-time translation and interactive whiteboards. The use of breakout rooms is making large virtual meetings more personal and more like in-person gatherings.
Insights from Advancement Practitioners
Part II of the symposium featured insights from advancement practitioners who shared their effective remote engagement strategies. In addition to Brodheim, the panel included Tim Dolan, CEO, University of Hawai’i Foundation, Vice President of Advancement, University of Hawaii at Manoa; Cindy Frederick, Senior Associate Vice President, University Advancement, University of Virginia; Martin Shell, Vice President and Chief External Relations Officer, Stanford (connecting remotely); and Rhea Turteltaub, Vice Chancellor, External Affairs, University of California, Los Angeles.
The innovation and creativity brought about by wide use and acceptance of virtual technology platforms has led to increased engagement and giving, according to the panelists.
Frederick noted the ability of the “collective community to come together” through virtual meeting technology. “The level of enthusiasm from external partners has been outstanding,” she said. “Faculty members have signed up to give talks related to their areas of expertise—topics such as art, history, dementia, DEIB—and we get 3,000 signed up, including parents, alumni, students. It gives me hope about the possibilities.”
“There has been a massive uptick in those coming to events,” said Shell. “So many in our community want to engage. How do we build on that now with the new level of normal?”
“We had to celebrate the close [of] our campaign on Zoom,” said Turteltaub. “It wasn’t the way we wanted to show the impact of a 7-year campaign. Our event planners were perhaps the most disappointed. But instead of 500 attending our event, we had thousands. Some of our biggest donors commented on how cool that was.”
Using the Zoom platform for solicitation can shorten the window of time it takes to close a gift because of the ease of scheduling interaction. “We received a $29 million gift to our health enterprise,” said Turteltaub. “It was remarkable that we were able to close that gift after only one year, all on Zoom. But there are moments when the sense of place is essential,” she added, noting that they brought the donors to campus to meet the researchers to whom the gift was directed. “Yes, you can move through the cycle a lot faster with Zoom, but you also need the opportunities to be in the same space,” she said.
The panelists agreed there are times when in-person contact will always be preferable to virtual engagement. “We had our second-best cash year ever during the pandemic because Zoom kept our relationships going,” said Frederick. But as advancement professionals, she cautioned, “We need the emotional intelligence not to follow a subscribed path—to know when we need to be in person.”
Moving forward, the CASE partnership with GG+A will identify compelling scholarly research or advanced data practices that are of interest to advancement professionals. The research will then be featured at the half-day symposium held annually at CASE Summit.
To learn more about managing remote teams and connecting with alumni and donors remotely, check out the resources curated by the CASE Library team.
About the author(s)
Ellen N. Woods is a CASE content creator.