Graduate Trainee Scheme

Their student days may be over, but 12 graduates of the CASE Europe Educational Fundraising Graduate Trainee Scheme will soon find themselves back on campus –this time employed as the newest members of an institution’s development and alumni office.


Before they set foot on a campus, however, these graduate trainees will find themselves in Scotland’s capital city where they will take part in a week-long induction programme as part of the CASE Europe Annual Conference.


The 2014-15 cohort of CASE Europe’s educational fundraising graduate trainees are part of an emerging cadre of professionals working to raise money to support excellence in teaching and research at a range of UK universities.


This programme, developed in 2009 as part of the Higher Education Funding Council for England’s matched funding scheme for voluntary giving which incentivised philanthropic giving to universities, has now become THE pathway for graduates into a career in educational advancement.


CASE Europe partners with host universities—ranging from Aberdeen to Bristol— to recruit nationally. Selection is highly competitive for graduates with leadership potential as well as evidence of the raw talent and personal attributes needed to be a successful fundraiser. These include excellent listening and communication skills; tenacity; persuasiveness; resilience; flexibility and, of course, a passion for the impact of higher education.


During the programme, each trainee will gain hands-on experience of the key elements of higher education fundraising, which is enhanced by a training programme from CASE, a mentoring programme and a month-long secondment to a fundraising office within a different university. Trainees may find themselves working on strategies for raising support for student-facing projects, supervising current students making telephone fundraising calls to alumni as well as face-to-face fundraising asks.


Of the 40-plus trainees who have completed the programme, most have successfully transitioned to a range of fundraising roles within the higher education sector. Previous trainees are now emerging in management and junior leadership roles, raising considerable sums for their institutions.


Commended in the recent HEFCE review of the UK higher education philanthropic workforce, this programme is making an important and valued contribution to the professional advancement community and the universities it supports.


However, it is small in scale, and its impact needs to broaden, if the sector is to achieve its goal of increasing the contribution that philanthropy makes to higher education. The support for the CASE Europe educational fundraising graduate trainee programme from organisations, such as Richmond Associates, Execucare and UCAS Media, is critical to its delivery.


‘When I grow up, I want to be a university fundraiser’ may not fall out of the mouths of babies just yet, however, programmes like this can channel the passion that young (and other) people demonstrate for world issues and higher education’s role in solving such problems.

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