It’s that time again – when we all look back and reflect on both the good and the bad from the previous year, and set new goals and resolutions for the next 12 months.

Goal-setting Tips

Regardless of what you want to accomplish, it’s important that any goals you set are SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-sensitive. It’s not just business-speak, it’s tried and tested by researchers and successful people alike. The other tips I find helpful are to focus on only one to a maximum of three goals each year – rather than a long list which will defeat you mentally before you even start; tell people who can help and get them on-board to support you; and finally, don’t give up if you have a setback. Pick yourself up, and resolve to learn from the experience.

Advancement Goals 2011

It’s up to you, as an advancement professional, to make sure they have the skill set to be able to fully get behind your campaign, understanding the instrumental role they play, and how they can best serve the institution in this regard. There’s no reason to expect that they will have these skills already based solely on their job title – chances are they’ve been promoted due more to their academic achievements or understanding of educational policy or administration rather than their advancement skills.

You are the Expert

Your specific goals will depend on your institution’s needs, but will likely involve specific training and some hand-holding. For example, for those new to fundraising, you may want to offer a hands-on half day session on how they can help make the advancement process a success, from identifying key prospects to cultivating those prospects’ interests, to talking confidently about identified fundraising priorities, to asking for support! As with media training, this may involve role-playing and even video-taping and peer critique.

The next step may involve accompanying senior managers on prospect visits, coaching them on what to say and why and debriefing after the fact. While it may feel strange to provide feedback to pro vice-chancellors in this way, it’s important to remember that you are the expert and have confidence in your skills. If you don’t feel they will listen to you, hire someone who can help you get there or take a refresher course. It will be worth every penny.

Culture Change

Developing skills and confidence in advancement takes time, particularly in British culture, which seems to be inherently less comfortable asking for money than do their North American peers. Don’t give up. My prediction for 2011 is that institutions will finally grasp that fundraising is absolutely essential to success. Share your goals with them and get them signed up fully to the cause!

No matter how hard you work or how good a fundraiser or marketer you are, in my experience you won’t get anywhere unless you become a trusted advisor to the senior team and in turn enable them to help you do your job better!