I am writing a series of monthly articles for Academic Impressions. Each article focuses on an aspect of international constituent relations and program development. In December 2013 I began to focus on the fine details of working abroad and wrote about the importance of knowing key international holidays to best inform staff or a delegation about when (and when not to travel). Once those parameters are understood, the planning can begin – but it’s important to have adequate time to create a successful advancement initiative based on strategic outcomes.
I suggest working from nine months out. This advance planning with the academic year is necessary and intentional for several reasons:
- First, budgets will be accessed for the same fiscal year for your advance work, travel and volunteer management needs. This creates a systematic way to fiscally plan and manage resources.
- Second, the international initiative is competing for time with other priorities and travel for busy volunteers, donors and institutional leaders. Plan ahead and confirm your spot on their calendars!
- And, third, international travel is not inexpensive, and the extra time will afford ample opportunity for advancement staff to shop for the travel deals and to negotiate with venues.
Advancement officers are not holding the responsibility alone for reaching out to constituents abroad. It is critical to keep the institution’s entire international agenda in mind and that requires a coordinated effort from alumni, development, special events, communications and marketing, and other departments such as admissions and graduate schools’ external relations offices. Advancement officers will also need to communicate with campus leadership and with volunteers abroad on a regular basis to best manage the expectations for everyone’s participation and support.
Everyone involved is a “brand manager” and will have a piece of the promotional timeline.
For two examples of how to best utilize a nine-month planning effort see: