Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) has quadrupled its donor income in five years to R64,9 million in 2017, grown the number of fundraising and development staff from six to eleven, and compiled a huge alumni database of more than 150 000 people.
These are just some achievements of a visionary five-year partnership between TUT and non-profit trust Inyathelo: The South African Institute for Advancement. The programme is based on long-term capacity-building for university fundraising offices and was funded by the Kresge Foundation, based in America.
Inyathelo Programme Director Nazli Abrahams says the collaboration with TUT began in 2013. It is founded on a multi-layered approach known as Advancement, which incorporates elements such as governance, leadership, relationship-building and financial management.
“Advancement encourages institutions to work in an integrated way and to build capacity to attract resources for long-term sustainability.”
The Kresge Foundation allocated TUT an initial grant of $150 000, followed by annual performance-based bonus grants. The programme was underpinned by capacity-building workshops, training and development, mentoring, leadership retreats and conferences through Inyathelo.
Mari Booysen, Director of the TUT Advancement and Partnerships Office (APO), says:
“The Kresge-Inyathelo Initiative not only provided an opportunity to re-establish our brand, improve our public image and build a more positive reputation externally, but moreover provided a case for institutionalising the concept of Advancement at TUT.”
She said key achievements included repositioning the APO under the leadership of the Vice Chancellor and Principal’s office, and involving Council and other university leadership directly in fundraising initiatives.
The APO set up an Alumni Relations Office (ARO), established a workable alumni database and began communicating and interacting better with alumni.
“We have hosted many successful events, ranging from faculty reunions to regional activities. We also have an electronic alumni newsletter called Our Beat, issued four times a year. We showcase successful alumni and the Vice Chancellor and Principal communicates a special message.”
The APO has launched its first TUT Bursary and Scholarship Fund, a platform for alumni to support flagship projects. “It encourages high net worth individuals, Council members, executive management, staff, students and companies, trusts and foundations to donate. We currently have more than R6 million in the Fund, with individual giving growing systematically.”
The TUT website has been revamped. The main university pages maximise the TUT brand and there is a social media platform for alumni to re-connect with their alma mater. “We maintain a conscious presence in the social media space, with a following in excess of 3700 across all platforms. In addition, the University can now receive online donations.”
While the Kresge-Inyathelo programme concluded in December 2017, its legacy lives on, says Ms Booysen. “The APO continues to execute strategies and implement goals and objectives based on the framework developed in the past five years.
“The direct impact and continuation of the programme deliverables will remain part of the University Institutional Strategic Plan (ISP 2020-2024), and specifically the APO’s Institutional Advancement Plan (IAP 2020-2024).”
Ms Abrahams says: “It is heartening to share the results of a successful Advancement project that has helped TUT to grow its cadre of Advancement professionals and implement their knowledge. The results can be seen in the growth in fundraising income which has helped provide more students with access to tertiary education.”
For as long as the cadre of experienced Advancement continues to grow and implement their knowledge and learning, there is reason to be positive that their institutions will continue to attract resources and support, she said.