Commentaries

International Fundraising

Daria Moringiello has spent the majority of her fundraising career at educational institutions, including various positions at Fordham Law School and Poly Prep Country Day School. Currently, she is the Assistant Director of Development for the Lubin School of Business at Pace University. She is a Former Jesuit Volunteer and her philanthropic interests are in education and various family foundations. Daria serves on the Advisory Board of the Curran Center for American Catholic Studies at Fordham University, from where she graduated with a B.A. in Theology.


 

 

International fundraising for institutions of higher education is a growing market. As more and more international students come to the United States to be educated and as American professionals continue to expand their businesses across the globe, graduates easily find themselves thousands of miles from their alma mater. Technology has allowed the world to become smaller and allowed for universities to start conversations of engagement with their alumni. Interested alumni can learn about international alumni chapters right on their alma mater’s alumni homepage, each one proudly boosting the high number of alumni living abroad. Scenic images of foreign cities and profile pictures of chapter leaders adorn these pages as a way of inviting alumni to become involved.


The Need

David Rubenstein, co-founder and managing director of the Carlyle Group, told Council for Advancement for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) president, John Lippincott, “American universities have a brand…and they’re racing to develop that brand outside of the United States.”1 University development offices are looking abroad to start and sustain a culture of cultivation and philanthropy with their alumni and parents. The volume of people who fit the category of international alumni is too big to ignore.

The Commitment

Many major universities have entire departments dedicated to engaging their international alumni. In some cases, the thousands of alumni living in hundreds of countries beg for a full staff to manage the prospect load. Fundraising internationally is no easy task and often calls for a great deal of patience. Many development offices know that in order to really cultivate a group in a particular country, one must commit to several trips a year. Many different cultures are not inclined to be philanthropic, so constant and steady cultivation is the key to being successful.

The Preparation

Jeffrey Schoenherr, from The Johns Hopkins University, describes some best practices as creating a brand for your university while taking a comprehensive approach to your constituents. On a trip to Asia, Schoenherr came not only prepared to talk about the University’s highlight of the study of medicine, but collaboration across departments, admissions, and career services. He was able to provide his constituents with tangible volunteer opportunities – of corporate, alumni and parent gatherings - even from thousands of miles away. Mentoring students who are studying abroad and providing internships and employee opportunities are other ways to get alumni involved. These types of engagement touches are extremely important to establish before even talking about philanthropy. Schoenherr has even approached international student groups on campus to help with event logistics, invitation translations and prospecting in advance of trips. This type of engagement not only provides immediate help but introduces students to the culture of giving while they are still on campus. This can prove to be very successful practice in years to come when these students graduate and become international alumni chapter leaders.2

Identifying key alumni who are committed to the success of an alumni presence abroad is critical to a university’s success. These alumni will help one navigate the needs and realities of alumni living in specific areas. They have insight into cultures and business markets that can prove to be invaluable and they can connect one to specific prospects and networks. Laying the groundwork with detailed prospect research is essential to making a worthwhile and successful trip abroad.

The Outcome

Successful international alumni will give back when they are ready and when their universities have shown that they are paying proper attention. International engagement has been very fruitful for many universities and certainly worth multiple trips a year. In some instances, it may take years before it is realized monetarily but the cultivation and stewardship of these prospects can prove to be priceless.

Paying attention to international alumni is essential, particularly in making them feel as if they are still connected. Once that relationship is established, raising money will be the next logical step. This demographic of prospects is growing and it will continue to be a significant part of strategic plans for development offices across the United States.

1 CASE Briefcase February 2013.
2 “International Fund Raising: It’s Not Just About the Money,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, 14 March 2011.

 

 

 




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