Universities and colleges have helped change the lives of countless students across the globe. Time spent in classes, libraries, and examination rooms have shaped the minds of tomorrow’s leaders, doctors and business entrepreneurs. More importantly, with the help of scholarships and bursaries, people stemming from disadvantaged communities also have a chance to achieve a qualification at accredited tertiary institutions – giving them an opportunity some can only dream of.
But in order to continue this work, these institutions often rely on the help of donors. In many ways, they’re at lot like non-profits, especially where fundraising is concerned. These institutions also rely on fundraising and alumni donors to keep their doors open. Over the years, this has inspired universities to foster innovative partnerships that help grow their fundraising department.
The Durban University of Technology (DUT) is one example of a university that is reaping the benefits of an innovative, five year capacity development programme for university fundraisers.
Over the past five years, donor income has grown, allowing the university to double their number of bursaries because of the 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 of 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.
“The partnership helped us to establish and grow a development office with the necessary capacity to attract philanthropic support,” explains Ngubane. “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.”
Inyathelo 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.
“The five-year programme is funded by the Kresge Foundation in America,” says Programme Director, Nazli Abrahams. “The University of the Free State, the University of Johannesburg and the Tshwane University of Technology also took part, effective from January 2013.”
The Inyathelo-DUT programme consisted primarily of financial support, staff training and development, human resources, and mentoring. Kresge also 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,” adds Ngubane.
A highlight of the programme was a course at the renowned Lilly School of Philanthropy, based at Indiana University in the United States. The partnership exposed DUT staff to a whole community of Advancement professionals around the world that have already been engaged in this work.
The various events made possible by the Kresge-Inyathelo initiative, such as the leadership retreats, directors’ forums and workshops, served as an excellent platform for networking and information sharing between Advancement staff from the different universities.
“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,” concludes Abrahams.
By investing in their own department, DUT can now give more learners the opportunity to achieve their goals through their various bursaries. The partnership with Inyathelo has helped grow the institution by providing staff with the training they needed to grow a sustainable fundraising department – proving that through partnership, we are able to better the future for all.