The importance of authentic leadership, digital fundraising and media, and donor motivations were key learnings from an international course created for Inyathelo management and South African higher education fundraising directors.
The Kresge Foundation, a US philanthropic private foundation, has funded Inyathelo to build South African Advancement capacity since 2005. As part of the conclusion of this initiative, Inyathelo’s Programme Director Nazli Abrahams, Programme Officer Jocelyn Collins and four South African higher education fundraising directors attended a customised course with The Fund Raising School at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University late last year. The course was taught by faculty members Drs Tim Seiler and Genevieve Shaker and The Fund Raising School Director Bill Stanczykiewicz.
“The trip was a great success in that it offered us an opportunity to arm ourselves with new skills and provided an injection of energy that we could take back to our institutions and organisations,” said Nazli. “What stood out most was the leadership, as well as the developing of digital strategy sessions. The guidelines provided were well received, helped provide a deeper understanding of our roles, and gave very practical solutions and methods to implement in our work.”
Course input from faculty member Dr Lilya Wagner’s book Leading Up: Transformational Leadership for Fundraisers highlighted the key skills of a modern fundraising leader. These include creating and communicating a compelling vision, promoting and initiating change, forging alliances and partnerships, valuing diversity, leveraging IT while considering human needs, and balancing professional demands with one’s own needs.
Another important part of the curriculum was finding out more about the DISC assessment system, which helps individuals to discover their behaviour/personality styles. The four factors of Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance are key to this assessment tool.
“Given the conclusion of this multi-year programme, key conversations around what next and what we are learning have been critical,” said Nazli. “Therefore, while in America, Jocelyn and I also met with the Kresge Education Programme team to discuss grantee activities, strategy and vision.”
Some feedback about the course from the participants included:
“I learned how transformational and authentic leaderships remain key success factors within philanthropy” - Mari Booysen, Director in the Advancement and Partnerships Office at the Tshwane University of Technology
“What stood out for me was the DISC assessment and what it means in terms of my current relationship with my colleagues, donors and other stakeholders. It taught me to think of other people’s characteristics in terms of the DISC and how we can strengthen one another” - Karen Coetzee, Senior Manager of Development and Alumni at the University of Johannesburg
“The training also reaffirmed us as fundraisers in knowing that this is a profession in its own right and one that adds value to organisations that rely on philanthropic income to function” - Zwakele Ngubane, Acting Director of Development and Alumni Relations at the Durban University of Technology
“Not a day goes by when I do not recall a nugget of wisdom from the course. I am better equipped to tackle the job that needs to be done” - Annamia Van den Heever, Director of Institutional Advancement at the University of the Free State