Identify 5 Defining Advancement Challenges for the Decade

Identify 5 Defining Advancement Challenges for the Decade

The defining challenges of the 2020s

Advancement ended the 2010s on a high note. Fundraising returns were strong, principal gifts were plentiful, and leadership invested in fundraising.

However, advancement leaders face significant challenges if they are going to sustain their performance in the decade to come.

Across 200+ interviews with advancement leaders, EAB has identified the five defining challenges that advancement will face across the coming decade.

How do we bridge the massive performance gap between middle and high-performing MGOs?

Map out the steps gift officers must take to be successful—and give them the time they need to do them.

  • Create scalable cultivation building blocks
  • Develop intermediate progress metrics for fundraisers 
  • Refocus MGOs’ time on core fundraising tasks

How do we “go digital” fast without breaking the bank?

Start by identifying the business challenge you’re trying to solve—and then select a technology that will help you solve it. 

  • Digitize the constituent experience
  • Leverage big data to drive decision-making
  • Automate rote, inefficient tasks across advancement

In a world of scarce resources, should annual giving focus on donor counts or pipeline development?

Decrease investments in alumni participation—and use those budget dollars to cultivate future-potential pipeline donors.

  • Identify “rising star” prospects early
  • Prioritize leadership annual giving direct-response campaigns
  • Adopt digital-first frontline staffing models

How must we change our model to realize the potential of our principal gift prospect base?

Raise the bar on principal gift proposal quality—and organize internally for agility and scale.

  • Develop “big idea” proposals to energize today’s donor-investors
  • Scale the CAO’s reach with strategy-support staffing
  • Enfranchise young gift officers to engage principal gift donors

How can we impact core institutional priorities that donor-designated gifts don’t touch?

Elevate efforts to drive unrestricted philanthropy—and bridge silos to bring in budget-relieving revenue.

  • Incentivize MGOs on unrestricted dollars
  • Partner with enrollment to impact tuition revenue
  • Redesign campaigns around mission-critical initiatives

Want to address advancement concerns?

Big, bold principal gift proposals that address societal or global issues are critical to attracting donors in an increasingly competitive philanthropic landscape. Read this Roadmap for steps to source big ideas, communicate the impact of principal gifts, and scale principal gift operations on campus.

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