There were several themes that emerged from the NAADD Convention this past week. The role of new media and technology in development, strategies for dealing with the poor economy, and a focus on core values were a few of the main points that were presented at several sessions over the course of the convention. One of the most stressed themes, however, was the importance of personal touch and personal organization in the development process.
“A brochure never raised a dollar – people do.” – Tim Hall, University of Missouri, Kansas City
During the many sessions that took place, there were discussions about twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and other new methods of communication that had everyone wondering when they should jump in and at what level can these new tools be useful. However, nearly every speaker noted how important it would become in the next few years to emphasize the personal touch with donors.
In response to the popularity of technology in development, “Never lose the personal touch.” – Jim Phillips, Northwestern University
Among the skills a good development officer will have, listening and a “thick-skinned” attitude were repeatedly mentioned. Several strategies to encourage a donor to speak about themselves were mentioned, but none of them are effective if you are not a good listener. Don’t take notes during a meeting, one panelist suggested, but be a good listener and write down what you must when the meeting is over.
“Development is about building relationships and asking for money. Between the two of those is being a good listener.” – Pat Chun, Ohio State University
“Development officers must be thick-skinned and organized.” – Dan DeRose, Donor, Colorado State University, Pueblo
The personal touch does not come without some sacrifice, however. It was highlighted several times that a good development officer has to play their role in the office, on campus, and in the community. Everyone around could be a donor, or could know someone considering a gift to the university. It is essential to represent the university, athletics department, and yourself at all times.
“You must be ‘on’ at all times, and treat everyone with respect.” – Dan Cloran, Xavier University
ADF will continue to post about happenings at the NACDA/NAADD Convention in the weeks to come.
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