The Durban University of Technology (DUT) is reaping the benefits of an innovative, five year capacity development programme for university fundraisers.
Donor income has grown steadily and the university has doubled the number of bursaries based on funds raised by the development office, from 10 in 2017 to 20 in 2018. It has also been able to appoint three more fundraising staff this year, increasing capacity to five staff members.
Zwakele Ngubane, DUT Director: Advancement and Alumni Relations, attributed these milestones largely to a visionary partnership between DUT and non-profit trust Inyathelo: The South African Institute for Advancement.
Inyathelo Programme Director Nazli Abrahams said Advancement incorporates elements such as marketing, governance, leadership, relationship-building and financial management. It encourages institutions to work in an integrated way to build capacity to attract resources for long-term sustainability.
Ms Abrahams said the five-year programme was funded by the Kresge Foundation in America. The University of the Free State, the University of Johannesburg and the Tshwane University of Technology also took part, effective from January 2013.
Mr Ngubane said: “The partnership helped us to establish and grow a development/ Advancement office with the necessary capacity to attract philanthropic support. The profile of Advancement work at the University has been elevated by equipping staff with the necessary tools, knowledge and confidence to act and speak authoritatively about Advancement and its relevance in the higher education sector.”
The Inyathelo-DUT programme consisted primarily of financial support, staff training and development, human resources and to a lesser extent some mentoring, said Mr Ngubane. Kresge awarded DUT an initial grant payment of $150 000 followed by an annual performance-based bonus grant.
“Our staff attended a number of workshops, coaching sessions and courses on a variety of topics. There was also constant support from Inyathelo in terms of developing our office’s strategic plan, setting milestone targets and working towards achieving them.”
A highlight was attending a course at the renowned Lilly School of Philanthropy, based at Indiana University in the United States.
“The partnership has exposed our staff to the fact that there is a whole community of Advancement professionals around the world that have been engaged in this work for some time; and that there are crucial learnings that can be gleaned from these experiences that can help us function more effectively,” said Mr Ngubane.
“The various events made possible by the Kresge-Inyathelo Initiative, such as the leadership retreats, directors’ forums and workshops have served as an excellent platform for networking and information sharing between Advancement staff from the different universities. This has also richly enhanced the growth and development of our staff.”
Ms Abrahams said: “It is heartening to share the results of this programme, which has helped universities to grow their cadre of Advancement professionals and implement their knowledge. They are far better positioned to attract resources and support in the long term.”