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4 Key Questions About the Advancement Landscape, Answered

A Q&A with Advancement Expert, Jenny Jones

October 30, 2023

By Dakota Anderson

At EAB, innovation and expertise are at the core of our mission to empower institutions with the tools they need to succeed. Today, we are excited to introduce Jenny Jones, the newest addition to the Advancement Marketing Services (AMS) team.

Jenny offers over 20 years of experience in program planning and implementation, with a knack for fostering relationships with alumni, donors, and university teams. She excels in streamlining operations, possesses comprehensive knowledge of philanthropic programs, and is skilled at building high-functioning teams. Jenny has a proven track record supporting fundraising efforts at prestigious institutions like the University of Kentucky, Duke Medicine Development and Alumni Affairs, and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Get to know Jenny as she provides insights into the current state of the advancement industry and offers her vision for the future.

Jenny Jones

Jenny Jones

Principal, Advancement Marketing Services

How has the advancement landscape changed in the last 10 years, and what strategies or trends do you see shaping the future of annual giving?

In the last decade, the higher education and advancement landscape has evolved considerably, driven in part by changes during the pandemic. Advancement strategies are adapting to staffing shortages, economic challenges, and the shift to virtual platforms. Notable trends include a significant move towards digital fundraising and engagement, growing sophistication in data analytics, a rise in mobile giving, and the prominence of virtual events.

Looking to the future, annual giving will emphasize personalized engagement, with data analytics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) tailoring communications to individual donor preferences. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives will be central, as institutions aim for inclusive strategies. Storytelling and transparent impact reporting will continue to engage donors emotionally. Hybrid fundraising, ethical data use, and strong collaboration with alumni networks will also be key in this evolving landscape. Success in annual giving will depend on engaging donors across multiple channels, including emerging technologies.

What are some key challenges and opportunities facing institutions today when it comes to annual giving?

Current challenges in annual giving include donor fatigue, economic uncertainty affecting donors’ capacity to give, heightened competition for philanthropic dollars, and demographic shifts necessitating tailored appeals.

On the flip side, institutions have ample opportunities in annual giving. Effective stewardship and acknowledging donors’ impact fosters loyalty and is vital to donor retention and annual giving success. Segmentation and personalization of communication can boost engagement and response rates. Encouraging legacy giving programs can extend the impact of annual giving efforts, creating a lasting source of support. Adaptation to evolving donor expectations, leveraging technology, and employing effective engagement strategies will empower institutions to navigate challenges and achieve fundraising goals.

Advancement teams have undergone significant digital transformations in recent years to stay current in an evolving fundraising landscape. What emerging trends in digital marketing do you believe will shape the future of annual giving?

Opportunities abound for institutions to connect with donors through digital platforms, social media, email, and more, providing cost-effective and flexible methods to engage a broader audience effectively. Additionally, data analytics have become pivotal, offering insights into donor behavior and preferences, allowing for personalized, targeted fundraising efforts that enhance donor retention and acquisition. Deploying an omnichannel approach for annual giving campaigns, which includes direct mail, phone calls, email, and digital ads, can enable institutions to reach donors where they are most comfortable and responsive.

Looking to the future, what are some areas of focus for advancement teams right now to ensure they are setting themselves up for future stability and success?

Advancement teams must continue to prioritize digital. This means leveraging data and analytics to gain insights into donor behavior and inform personalized fundraising strategies. Additionally, they should expand online fundraising channels through user-friendly websites and mobile apps, ensuring a seamless and secure digital giving experience.

Advancement teams should focus on mapping out the donor journey, identifying key touchpoints to create a cohesive and personalized experience for donors. It’s key to begin to explore the applications of AI for predictive analytics, chatbots for donor support, and AI-driven personalization, enhancing donor engagement. Training and development of the team’s digital literacy, coupled with prioritizing user-friendly design and ethical technology use, are crucial for maintaining trust with donors while adapting to evolving philanthropic landscapes.

Learn More

Connect with EAB and Jenny on Linkedin. Stay in the know of all the latest higher education and advancement trends.

Continue reading about our newest expert

Can you tell us about your background and what led you to a career in Advancement?

My professional journey started as a high school teacher, but I soon shifted my focus to higher education development and psychological counseling. This led me to Student Affairs, where I found my niche in Student Activities.

At the University of Kentucky, I was involved in developing the Student Alumni Association and recent graduate programs, eventually leading to my role as Associate Director of Alumni Affairs. A move to North Carolina for my husband’s job brought me to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and later to Duke Medicine at Duke University, where I served as the Director of Donor Relations and Special Events and Director of Alumni Affairs for the School of Medicine.

Returning to my hometown, I became the Executive Director of Alumni Affairs at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. My passion for data analysis and technology advocacy from my higher education career paved the way for a role at Ellucian, where I bridged the gap between Advancement end-users and various departments, including Product, R&D, Sales, and Marketing.

I later joined Grenzebach, Glier + Associates as the Vice President for Advancement Services before joining the team at EAB.

What excites you the most about joining the EAB team and taking on a leadership role in Advancement Marketing Services?

EAB has a stellar reputation for its commitment to improving education through innovative solutions. Being part of such a dynamic and forward-thinking organization is incredibly exciting. I can’t wait to contribute to EAB’s mission of transforming higher education advancement for the better.

Within Advancement Marketing Services, I’m eager to leverage my experience and expertise to help institutions boost alumni and donor engagement. The Advancement field is evolving rapidly, and EAB is poised to pioneer new strategies and technologies. I’m excited about working with a talented team and collaborating with EAB’s partner institutions to develop cutting-edge marketing and advancement strategies.

In this role, I’m particularly enthusiastic about continuing my passion for alumni engagement, diversity, and data-driven decision-making. EAB’s focus to make education smarter and communities stronger aligns perfectly with my background and interests. I’m eager to explore new ways to use my knowledge of higher education, philanthropy, data, and technology to drive success in Advancement Marketing Services.

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