The University of the Free State (UFS) has boosted recorded donor income from R38 million in 2013 to R96 million in 2017, partly due to an innovative capacity development programme for university fundraisers.
UFS was one of four universities that took part in a visionary five-year partnership with non-profit trust Inyathelo : The South African Institute for Advancement. The programme was funded by the Kresge Foundation, based in America.
The Durban University of Technology, the University of Johannesburg and the Tshwane University of Technology also participated in the programme from 2013-2017.
The programme was based on a multi-layered approach known as Advancement. This incorporates elements such as governance, leadership, relationship-building and financial management. It encourages institutions to work in an integrated way and to build capacity to attract resources for long-term sustainability.
The Kresge Foundation allocated the UFS an initial grant of $150 000, followed by an annual performance-based bonus grant.
UFS Director: Institutional Advancement, Annamia van den Heever, said the UFS joined the programme with several targets in mind:
. Increasing funding in all donor categories in the medium and long term;
. Better procedures for, and coordination of, the Advancement function;
. Optimal matching of projects and prospects;
. Improving project development skills in faculties;
. Deepening understanding of the Advancement function at UFS; and
. Fostering a culture of personal giving.
“We are delighted at the results,” she said. “Not only did donor income increase substantially – partly because systems for tracking, recording and analysing income were improved – but we achieved our milestones every year. These included enhancing leadership’s understanding of Advancement, improving the skills of Advancement staff, enhancing alumni engagement and improving the alumni and donor database.”
Ms van den Heever said the programme was underpinned by staff training, especially through Inyathelo, as well as attendance at conferences such as Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) Europe events.
Other interventions included workshops for the Rector’s office and academic leaders; appointing additional staff, including a prospect research post; advice on drafting policies and procedures, including a fundraising protocol; and improving initiatives such as the annual Chancellor’s Alumni Awards.
“A highlight of my career was attending the Kresge-Inyathelo Advancement Initiative international exchange programme at The Fund Raising School, Indiana University last year. Not a day goes by when I do not recall a nugget of wisdom from the course,” said Ms van den Heever.
“The entire university has benefited from the huge boost in morale that our participation in the Kresge-Inyathelo programme has brought. A huge ‘thank you’ to the Kresge Foundation and Inyathelo for their support in our journey of becoming a respected Advancement office.”