Tips to Empower Deans as Fundraisers

bow-tie-businessman-fashion-man-largeDeans and academic leaders are playing an increasingly vital role in fundraising at their institutions.

“The dean is someone who has to be a publicly admired individual, someone who people trust so much so that they’re willing to provide financial support for [his or her] cause,” says Andrew Policano, dean of the Paul Merage School of Business at the University of California, Irvine. He’s also a faculty member at CASE’s Development for Deans and Academic Leaders conference in October.

Deans have to possess academic talent as well as business acumen, he says. They should be able to publicly advocate for their institutions when talking to students, alumni and donors. Here are five key steps and resources for advancement professionals to use when working with deans and academic leaders on fundraising.

  • Give deans a checklist of steps to make an askIn this Currents piece, “Making the Ask,” Deborah Blackmore Abrams and Linus Travers give faculty members a detailed description of the steps to ask a donor for a major gift.
  • Strengthen ties between deans and development officers. In “Great Expectations,” Currents offers tips to boost communication and trust between academic leaders and fundraisers.
  • Review best practices for deans to build the fundraising case at their schools. In this episode of Advancement Talk, Policano explores the what, how and why of fundraising for deans.
  • Understand—and leverage—academic leaders’ strengths. In the Currents article “Top Dogs,” a provost outlines how to discover academic leaders’ talents and limitations in fundraising.
  • Help deans re-envision philanthropy. In this Currents piece, “Sowing the Seeds of Philanthropy,” an advancement professional offers ways to frame fundraising discussions with academic leaders.


Take a deeper dive into each of these topics at the Development for Deans and Academic Leaders conference, Oct. 5-7, 2016, in New Orleans, Louisiana. (The early bird deadline has been extended to Sept. 9.) Here’s what past attendees say about the experience:

  • “My dean is brand new to work with alumni and development. She left the conference with dozens of ideas and very excited about what the future can hold for our college. Thanks to an excellent team of CASE faculty!”
  • “CASE provided excellent resources and information for me as a new dean on how to effectively work with my development team on building and sustaining our philanthropic efforts. The practical advice was wonderful and provided many useful suggestions for how to grow philanthropy at our institution.”
  • “This workshop provided me with an excellent overview and concrete strategies and many ideas to use in my job. I loved the organized approach and content in the individual sessions and the opportunity to network.”

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