Getting Started in Partnering with your Development Office

Establishing a partnership with your campus development office can be key to providing resources to enhance your office and student success. Depending on your reporting structure and campus priorities, you may need to first determine where current partnerships exist. Check in with your supervisor to understand who in your division may already have existing relationships with development staff.

A few questions to get you started:

  • Are there current development priorities and existing relationships?
  • Is parent/family gift solicitation already happening?
  • How are parents contacted and by whom?
  • What are the primary funds that parents are currently contributing to?

Once you have the baseline data and solicitation activity, you can formulate a plan in consultation with the development officers and potentially your Parents Council board, if applicable. At the University of Tennessee, we established a multi-level approach to engaging families beyond their role as a provider for their students. Two additional roles that parents/family members often assume in the collegiate environment could be that of a Participant and/or Philanthropist. We engaged our Parents Council board in the process so they can serve as champions for the University’s philanthropic work. Annually, we reviewed our activity to assess the outcomes of our activities, communications and solicitations. Here is an outline of some key strategies:

Key Tactics:

  • Review previous year outcomes including gifts and activities
  • Determine fund priorities or initiatives to discuss with families
  • Determine calendar of events for this year (i.e. Annual fund and Major Gift solicitation, events)
  • Prepare annual fund timeline to include solicitation letter, email and/or telefund
  • Engage your campus partners in a discussion about the data file
  • Engage your Parents Council and other parent/family volunteers so they can become champions for your efforts

Tips for continued success:

  • Set up regular meetings with key development staff
  • Determine mutually agreeable priorities
  • Communication must flow both ways
  • Accurate parent data is essential
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