Professional Development

In the 'CASE Conference' Category...

Lauren Suffoletto attends CASE Conference, Chicago

Friday, January 3, 2014 11:25 am

Between December 14th and 17th, I attended the CASE V Regional Annual Advancement Meeting in downtown Chicago. CASE, the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, has 8 regional districts across the country, and is comprised of 70,000 professionals involved in University Advancement – (i.e. development, fundraising, alumni relations, communications, etc). I was so enthusiastic to attend my first ever professional conference, and spent hours planning my schedule in advance – determining the track sessions I would attend, the networking opportunities I would take advantage of. I wanted to maximize the learning experience, to become a sponge. Absorbing all information I could about the field of Advancement, I learned from various professionals from all over the country, with varied experience levels ranging from 2-25 years.

It all began on a 2-degree, snowy Saturday at the Sheraton Hotel, where I attended a Young Professionals Summit (best described as bootcamp). From that very first day until the last, I pondered one major question: “How can I apply what I learn about university fundraising and cultivating donor relationships to ZSR, as Wake moves into the next phase of the Capital Campaign?” Before I attempt to answer this (partially), I would like to express 10 major lessons that I learned.

Lesson 1: Network. Network. Network!

Development is a field comprised of naturally outgoing people, so it is no wonder that there were breakfast talks and lunch round tables and dinners and networking opportunities throughout the conference. On the first day alone I interacted with at least 15 fundraising professionals in a lunch round table, an afternoon coffee connect, and a happy hour for networking. It became clear that by learning how to “navigate networking ,” we were really learning how to become development officers.

Lesson 2: Development involves a complex process of building and maintaining relationships.

The field of fundraising is 100% relational, and to be successful one must understand the purpose of giving, the motivation behind it, and the importance of storytelling.

But it does not stop there. A cyclical process takes place, where one must identify the proper donor, discover their passion(s), cultivate a relationship, engage in an effective solicitation, and follow up with a proper method of stewardship. Teamwork, leadership, and effective communication play a fundamental role in this process.

Lesson 3: That true grit is necessary to fundraising success.

One must pursue goals, not just outcomes. One must cultivate habits that perfect technique. One must get serious about feedback. All of this requires true grit, which James Husson, Vice President of University Advancement at Boston College described, as a combination of urgency and humility. Three key strengths repeated throughout the conference in an ongoing conversation surrounding grit were concentration- focus- and technique.

Lesson 4: There are currently misconceptions about the alumni relations field.

Alumni relations professionals are not just “friend-raisers,” and that concept is no longer appropriate. They are not just the party planner that identifies the super fan, but the avenue or pathway that connects front line fundraisers to direct donor prospects. They are essential, and must be able to wear several hats. Which leads to lesson 5.

Lesson 5: Front line fundraisers and alumni relations professionals must engage in partnership strategies, as the future of University Advancement depends on it.

This is something that we do well here at Wake, since both of our offices work under the same umbrella. This allows for more effective communication and transparency across all outlets, helping the university effectively raise money.

Lesson 6: The way in which we interact with alumni is rapidly changing, and digital alumni engagement is the future.

Advancement professionals must recognize that technology has not only rapidly affected the student learning environment, but how we interact with those students once they graduate and leave Wake Forest. We must be adaptable, recognizing that powerful entities like LinkedIn are changing the way we connect to our alumni, and that an online community has an identity that is viable for raising money.

Lesson 7: A sales approach can be helpful for major gifts officers.

Sales is more results driven, and examines giving capacity more than giving history. Gifts are on the donors terms, and direct disclosure is present. This not only makes the process more efficient and fosters a strong business relationship between a donor and a major gifts officer, but it establishes trust early on. The more you directly listen and respect your prospect donor, the better the interaction.

Lesson 8: Prepare and Practice.

I heard people often repeat this point in several sessions. Development officers need to be prepared. They have to not only know their top 3 selling points, but they have to be willing to abandon them if they are eliminated from the conversation. They have to be prepared for rejection, and know how to tactfully respond. They need to be strategic, and be ready to listen. Practice makes intention behind delivery effortless.

Lesson 9: Patience is key.

It is no surprise that fundraising can be a difficult profession. An average development officer remains in their position for 18 months. The reasons for turnover can vary, but after many conversations, I think that countless rejection, conflict, and burnout might be among the top 3. An average fundraising professional will make 8 calls, and may reach only 4-5 of these calls. They may land 1 visit, and only schedule about 5 of these visits per month. Out of these 5 visits, they may be lucky to solicit 2 substantial gifts.

Many folks encouraged people to remain steadfast in their positions , and provided wonderful, positive ways to approach rejection. I found myself repeating, “Don’t stop, don’t give up!!

Lesson 10: Warm and competent relations can and will drive fundraising, most importantly for the Annual Fund.

There is a universal way we form relationships. Over 50% of behavior depends on warmth and competence. University Advancement teams must be aware that not all engagement involves an “ask,” and that there are unique ways to engage alumni that will appeal to their hearts before their wallets- which leads to something bigger and better later. Not only is it important to recognize different types of alumni groups, but it is important to acknowledge that these various groups have diverse interests and must be recognized for what they give and/or how they engage with the university.


So what does this mean for Wake Forest and ZSR? Well, to be honest, I am still trying to figure all of that out. There will likely be challenges ahead. As many professionals said at the conference, Capital Campaigns can breed campus-wide competition, as various organizations compete for the same prospect donors. However, I firmly believe that ZSR has an opportunity to remain a key stakeholder.

At ZSR, we have an opportunity to not only write “our story,” but to share it. If we can weave together a narrative that explicitly states the multitude and expansive nature of our services, as well as our relevance and importance on campus, then we can be successful at fundraising.

Al Gurganus, a recent donor to the library recently stated in a video, that the reason he and his wife chose to donate to the library was to ‘”maximize utility.” It became clear he said , “That when you help the library, you help everyone- students, faculty, and staff.”

ZSR will continue to write its narrative and find ways to tailor it to various donors depending on their interests (i.e. technology, academics, programming , etc). We are doing a superb job with digital alumni engagement through ZSRx and other methods, and will continue to expand our mission to help our alums succeed. I am confident that ZSR will shine through as the heart of our campus, and that we will raise the money needed to make our home even more excellent!

2008 North Carolina Serials Conference
2008 ONIX for Serials Webinar
2008 Open Access Day
2008 SPARC Digital Repositories
2008 Tri-IT Meeting
2009 Big Read
2009 code4lib
2009 Educause
2009 Handheld Librarian
2009 LAUNC-CH Conference
2009 LAUNCH-CH Research Forum
2009 NCLA Biennial Conference
2009 NISOForum
2009 OCLC International ILLiad Conference
2009 RBMS Charlottesville
2009 SCLA
2010 ATLA
2010 Code4Lib
2010 EDUCAUSE Southeast
2010 Handheld Librarian
2010 ILLiad Conference
2010 LAUNC-CH Research Forum
2010 Metrolina
2010 North Carolina Serials Conference
2010 RBMS
2010 Sakai Conference
2011 CurateCamp
2011 Illiad Conference
2012 SNCA Annual Conference
acrl immersion
ALA Annual
ALA Editions
ALA Midwinter
ALCTS Webinars for Preservation Week
ARL Assessment Seminar 2014
Audio streaming
authority control
Berkman Webinar
bibliographic control
Book Repair Workshops
Career Development for Women Leaders Program
Carolina Consortium
CASE Conference
Celebration: Entrepreneurial Conference
Charleston Conference
CIT Showcase
Coalition for Networked Information
Conference Planning
Copyright Conference
CurateGear 2013
CurateGear 2014
Designing Libraries II Conference
DigCCurr 2007
Digital Forsyth
Digital Humanities Symposium
Disaster Recovery
Discovery tools
Educause SE
Electronic Resources and Libraries
Elon Teaching and Learning Conference
Embedded Librarians
Entrepreneurial Conference
ERM Systems
evidence based librarianship
Evidence Based Library and Information Practice (EBLIP)
Ex Libris Users of North America (ELUNA)
First-Year Experience Conference
Future of Libraries
Gaming in Libraries
Google Scholar
Handheld Librarian Online Conference
ILLiad Conference
information design
information ethics
Information Literacy
Innovation in Instruction
Innovative Library Classroom Conference
Institute for Research Design in Librarianship
Journal reading group
LAMS Customer Service Workshop
Leadership Institute for Academic Librarians
Learning spaces
Library 2.0
Library Assessment Conference
Library of Congress
Lilly Conference
LITA National Forum
Mentoring Committee
MOUG 2010
Music Library Assoc. 07
Music Library Assoc. 09
Music Library Assoc. 2010
Music Library Association
National Library of Medicine
NCCU Conference on Digital Libraries
NCLA Biennial Conference 2013
NCLA Biennial Conference 2015
NHPRC-Electronic Records Research Fellowships Symposium
North Carolina Serial Conference 2014
North Carolina Serials Conference
Offsite Storage Project
OLE Project
online catalogs
online course
Online Learning Summit
open access
Open Repositories
Peabody Academic Library Leadership Institute
Preservation Activities
Preserving Forsyth LSTA Grant
Professional Development Center
rare books
Scholarly Communication
Social Stratification in the Deep South
Social Stratification in the Deep South 2009
Society of American Archivists
Society of North Carolina Archivists
Southeast Music Library Association
Southeast Music Library Association 08
Southeast Music Library Association 09
SPARC webinar
subject headings
Sun Webinar Series
TALA Conference
Technical Services
ThinkTank Conference
UIPO Symposium
UNC Teaching and Learning with Technology Conference
user studies
video-assisted learning
visual literacy
Web 2.0
WFU China Initiative
Women's History Symposium 2007
ZSR Library Leadership Retreat
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007

Powered by, protected by Akismet. Blog with