How Advancement Can Save Your School

This is an excerpt of an EverTrue article by Keith Hannon of Cornell Alumni Affairs & Development. Click here to read the full version (no download required).

It’s 8:30 am, and I’m kicking back in my chair sifting through the engagement numbers on last night’s Facebook post for Cornell alumni. I look at the comments and the people who liked the post, hoping to stumble upon a name synonymous with giving capacity. I’m not a monster—I don’t do it just for the money—but I know social media’s role in advancement is to help achieve fundraising goals, so money matters.

I then turn my attention to various higher-ed online publications, and I find more bad news for small liberal arts colleges. I begin to think that higher-ed advancement might be staring down a new “duty as assigned.”

I’ve Got a Fever… and It’s Spreading

A couple months back, I penned a piece about the closing of Sweet Briar College, a small women’s college in Virginia that announced it would be closing down after more than 110 years.  At the time, it felt like an outlier—a combination of low enrollment and mishandled finances that created a dire situation. A passionate Sweet Briar alumnae base rallied valiantly, trying to raise money to keep the doors open, but just 60 days later, we now know they’re not alone.

More schools have trickled into the media because they’re either shutting down or on the brink of shutting down. After 70 years, Tennessee Temple University announced its closure following years of declining enrollment. The president of Oakland, CA-based Mills College announced she’s not extending her contract, which looks more like a captain NOT going down with the ship as each day reveals more issues with the school’s finances. South Carolina legislators are pushing to close South Carolina State University, the state’s only public black college, due to the school’s increasing financial issues.

The collapse of higher-ed institutions is no longer a doomsday hypothetical. It’s a reality, and advancement needs to take action.


Read the full article, “Don’t Fear the Reaper: How Advancement Can Save Your School,” for an expanded discussion of the financial crisis in higher ed, commentary from advancement professionals, and key takeaways for advancement teams.

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