David Marupen, the newly-appointed Director of Fundraising in Stellenbosch University's Development and Alumni Relations Division (DAR) has more than 25 years of experience in the field of fundraising. This, coupled with a commitment to building strategic partnerships and a passion for higher education, mentoring and uplifting communities, has him all set to work side by side with Karen Bruns, Senior Director of DAR, to advance the University's fundraising mission.
Marupen took up this position in January 2023, and comes with a wealth of knowledge honed in various positions within the fundraising arena. His career in fundraising started at the former Technikon Pretoria (now the Tshwane University of Technology), where he was the executive director of the Institutional Advancement Office. He then moved on to the University of Fort Hare, where he served as chief executive officer of the foundation responsible for overseeing all institutional fundraising activities. During this time, he also served as chairperson of the board of the Miriam Makeba Performance Arts Centre and as a member of the board of the Hunterstoun Academic Retreat Centre in Hogsback.
His journey in the higher education sector continued in the position of senior development officer at the University of Johannesburg’s Advancement Office. For the last five years before joining SU, he was the deputy director of the Resource Mobilisation Centre at the University of Limpopo.
He also held the position of fundraiser for the Financial Services Consumer Education Foundation of the Financial Sector Conduct Authority, director of fundraising and new business development at LoveLife and acting manager of marketing, communications and fundraising at Johannesburg Child Welfare. "I currently also serve on the board of the Morongwa Foundation, which focuses on improving the lives of marginalised communities," he adds.
So, why the move to Stellenbosch? Marupen, born and raised in Pretoria, says that this is due to the good reputation of Stellenbosch University’s academic, research and social impact offering. "The institution is intent on improving access to higher education for students, especially those with financial needs. SU is also strategic in building relationships with various partners and stakeholders to advance its mission. This mission, among others, aims to enrich and transform local, continental and global communities."
As he is joining a well-established team of successful fundraisers, Marupen believes that he will have his work cut out for him. "I am convinced that my experience gained over the years will positively impact the fundraising team and the broader DAR, by complementing the great work achieved thus far, but also ensuring that donor income is increased."
According to Marupen, fundraising is never an easy task, and it demands a systematic approach, commitment, discipline and a passion for the profession.
"Having worked with different teams over the years has shown me that teamwork, cross-functional support, and development within the division is required. This is an area that will receive my attention. I will create an optimal working environment that encourages teamwork, professional development, and shared responsibility for both success and failure. I will also focus on diversifying the existing donor base and tapping into institutions that can provide philanthropic grants to the University. The aim is to attract support for different projects that fall within the four fundraising thematic areas; which are student access and success, research, social justice, and infrastructure development."
Marupen, who comes from a family of teachers and also taught for years early in his career, believes in sharing knowledge and empowering the next generation. "I plan to mentor and coach aspiring fundraisers to become competent and skilled in the art of attracting funding. It is important that they learn to navigate through the difficulty of building authentic relationships that leads to long-term, sustainable partnerships and support."
He concludes, "I am excited and look forward to working with my esteemed SU colleagues to advance the goals and ideals of the institution as it strives towards further growth and sustainability."