Find me a fundraiser

September 18, 2008

The assertion that there are too many Americans in UK university development offices misses the point ("Americans are 'taking over'?", 11 September).

Professionals from the other side of the Atlantic are not "taking over" - the fact is that there is a worldwide shortage of experienced development practitioners throughout an increasingly global market.

UK universities recruit academics from an international pool, and the same is now true for senior administrators and professionals, in particular fundraisers.

Britons are working in Australia, Asia and across Europe; North Americans, South Africans and Antipodeans in the UK.

Equally, UK universities have relationships with donors all over the globe. Of course, there are cultural and organisational differences, but the underlying issue is a shortage of the right people for a critical job.

The Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (Case) is committed to nurturing the next generation of development directors and to continuous professional growth for those at senior levels. It is striking that our recent annual European conference attracted almost 1,000 participants from 32 countries.

These figures, and the Government's commitment to encouraging educational philanthropy, underline the need to strengthen training provision. Graduate-trainee schemes, mentoring systems and study visits will raise the profile of fundraising as a satisfying career and help us grow more of our own.

Perhaps the most significant lesson we can learn from American university fundraisers is the continuous investment needed to recruit, retain and train outstanding people.

Joanna Motion, Vice-president, international operations, Council for the Advancement and Support of Education Europe.

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