How 77 of your advancement peers are responding to COVID-19

Expert Insight

How 77 of your advancement peers are responding to COVID-19

Recent days have brought transformational change to higher education from the COVID-19 outbreak. Across the past 24 hours, my colleagues and I surveyed 77 of our advancement partners to see how they are responding.

Advancement is particularly exposed to the coronavirus due to the frequency of large-scale events and one-on-one in-person engagement. In this trying time, we found that advancement leaders are taking bold action aimed at minimizing the risks of this pandemic to their constituents.

Fundraising strategy not yet impacted, but will be soon

1 in 5

Survey respondents say that they are discussing suspending fundraising activity
Survey respondents say that they are discussing suspending fundraising activity

Few institutions have reevaluated their fundraising goals as of yet—73% say they have not done so. However, less than half of the institutions that say they have not revised their fundraising goals also say they do not plan on doing so. Many respondents say that they have “not yet” revised goals, or that it is “unclear” if they will do so. We anticipate that many advancement teams will downgrade their ambitions for 2020 significantly in the coming months.

Lastly, more than 1 in 5 institutions says that they are discussing the possibility of suspending fundraising activity altogether. One respondent to the survey has already done so.

Broad prohibition on gatherings both large and small for the near-term, big decisions loom around commencement

88%

Of institutions have not yet decided whether to cancel commencement
Of institutions have not yet decided whether to cancel commencement

There has been swift movement toward canceling events. Around 40% of institutions have canceled large events on campus, and another 30% to 40% have canceled all events, regardless of size, on and off campus. In total, that comes to 70% to 80% of institutions. Even those institutions that have not yet canceled events acknowledge they may do so any day now.

The decision is still out, though, on commencement. 88% of institutions reported that they have not yet made a decision. 9% said that commencement is still on. Only one institution said they are definitely canceling commencement.

The waiting period for resuming events extends at least through the end of March. For nearly half of institutions (47%), institutional leaders do not plan on resuming events until some time between April 12 and May 1.

Travel restrictions proliferate

25%

Of survey respondents have restricted domestic air travel for staff
Of survey respondents have restricted domestic air travel for staff

Staff are increasingly getting grounded. 25% of institutions have restricted domestic air travel for staff, and another 38% have restricted all travel. Another 20% of institutions reported a more nuanced travel policy—e.g., only permitting travel within the state or neighboring states. That adds up to about 4 in 5 institutions having domestic travel restrictions in place.

The situation is even more stark when it comes to international travel—95% of institutions report having restricted travel abroad for their staff. Some of those restrictions apply specifically to CDC Level 2 and 3 countries, though broader umbrella restrictions are increasingly the rule, not the exception.

Remote work the new norm for higher ed advancement staff

Institutions are reevaluating remote work. 45% report changing their remote work policy in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. While most institutions describe their policy (as of March 12) as “staff are allowed to work remotely in limited circumstances,” every day brings more institutions implementing mandatory or semi-mandatory remote work.

The consequences of the coronavirus are just beginning to unfold. As the situation progresses, my colleagues and I will continue to update our partners. Check back for frequent updates to our coronavirus resource page.