Challenges & Opportunities in Education Development Today: Part I

Challenges & Opportunities in Education Development Today

Part 1 of 2: Common Challenges in a Changing Media Landscape

Recently we had the opportunity to visit the development offices of four colleges over a two week span.  Our discussions with the four schools spanned across 15 development officers so we got a pretty good cross section of opinions.

There are many new opportunities Development Officers can take advantage of which we’ll highlight in the second of these back to back blogs.

In this first one, we’ll primarily focus on the commonality of challenges they all seem to be facing.

The diversity of the schools we visited was evident in their size, educational pedigree, specialties and the staying power they’ve maintained within alumni relations.

The nearly universal hurdles they’re facing include

  • Distributed organizational units- development, alumni relations, communications
  • Variations in fund raising objectives- often overlapping
  • New media such as social, web, e and mobile that’s requiring changes in development tactics
  • A changing of the guard- some personnel entrenched in the past of traditional media, some wondering about where “the new” will come into play
  • Donor age group segments- now there has to be a cross media deployment methodology
  • The lack of an “updated communications plan”
  • Varying levels of uncertainty- will new media work, how should it be developed and deployed, what’s to happen with traditional outreach
  • For some, paralysis- do nothing except what’s been done before
  • A new conundrum- old tactics being applied in a new media age
  • And for sure, everyone’s favorite- worn out data or ineffective data practices

Perhaps it’s safe to say Development is somewhat under the gun.

Conversely this digital media age affords Development Officers many new opportunities for the development of higher levels of community, rapport and ultimately donor conversions.

It’s going to call for two major sea changes in Development practices to occur:  1) Increased synchronization between development and alumni relations, and 2) New communication plans at the strategic, tactical and deployment levels

Our second blog, “part two of two” under the same title will describe some of the highlights for what Development must do to achieve new levels of returns.

The behavior patterns of the donor base have shifted.  Development must do the same or the whole of the organization will be in for an unpleasant awakening.  The rumblings have already started…