Stellenbosch University
Welcome to Stellenbosch University
Colleagues team up for fundraising success
Author: Development & Alumni Relations
Published: 07/05/2024
​Stellenbosch University (SU) academics and senior leaders have taken up the opportunity to gain valuable fundraising insights at a recent upskilling workshop hosted by the Development and Alumni Relations Division (DAR). The workshop, in its second year, aims to equip participants with the skills and insights to solicit philanthropic funding.

This year’s workshop, entitled “Develop your fundraising pitch”, ran from 22nd to 26th April at the Stellenbosch and Tygerberg campuses and was coordinated by the Major Gifts & International Engagement unit within DAR. The week-long voluntary practice development sessions attracted participants from SU’s faculties, schools, and institutes.

Graeme Byrne, UK-based consultant at DAR, and founder of Lagotto Solutions, says it was heartening to see colleagues embracing the upskilling initiative.

According to Byrne, the job of fundraising at universities is not just for the fundraisers. "The philanthropic fundraising initiatives of the university will only be strengthened when DAR continues to partner with academics to raise the profile of the university. Therefore, many of the sessions focused on showing academics how they should go about interacting with fundraisers and how fundraisers should interact with academics. If it is done well, it means that the organisation is more likely to raise big gifts. So much of this is about building the right teams and working well together."

Byrne, who works with universities throughout the world to help them raise philanthropic income more effectively, says the aim is also to take the fear out of fundraising.

"I work with a lot of academics, and I always ask them, ‘What scares you about fundraising?’, and the response most often is the thought of being stuck opposite another person asking them for money. That thought can be quite daunting, but the truth is that most of the time they will be working with fundraisers who have years of experience in the field. The idea is that we will work with you to develop relationships and to identify the right time to ask for money.”

He says when you ask people to consider new ideas or do things that they haven’t done before, there is always a danger that it can be met by a level of cynicism. "But that was not the case when DAR presented the first upskilling programme in 2023, and judging by this year’s attendance, the programme continues to grow from strength to strength."

Director of Fundraising at DAR, David Marupen, says the upskilling programme was introduced to foster collaboration between DAR and SU colleagues, and to upskill and expose them to best practices that will help attract philanthropic support for projects and initiatives.

"We wanted to reach as many of our colleagues as possible through this programme because it also ties in with the long-term Strategic Fundraising Plan that we are developing. This strategy aims to not only guide our fundraising activities within DAR, but also within the broader institution," he says.

According to Marupen, the success of the programme has prompted DAR to plan and host more workshops in the future, ensuring this valuable training reaches a broader audience. ​

Photographer:  Ernest Birkenstock