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Patricia Jackson: Trends and Challenges in Advancement

Patricia Jackson, Vice President for Development, Brown University

WG: From your perspective, what are the three major trends you see coming in the advancement field over the next five to ten years?

PJ: First, the blurring distinction and increasingly permeable boundaries between the for-profit and non-profit worlds. There are new models: Google.org, for example. In addition, we are seeing more independent philanthropic advisors who work with our constituents. Certainly this has an impact on non-profits; we’re working more and more with for-profit advisors. This results in a greater investment of time, and multiple agendas. This is not a bad thing, but something of which we need to be mindful. In a sense the the process of identifying and soliciting prospects has become more complex and we need to be aware of all the possible stakeholders in a solicitation that may or may not be in the room.

As we all look ahead to the intergenerational transfer of wealth from an older generation of donors to the baby boom generation, we need to anticipate that there will be greater implications for women as donors than for men.  Female baby boomers have greater potential to inherit from multiple sources—both from parents and spouses since women tend to live longer. This knowledge should affect how we look at potential donors. Personally, as I think about my own philanthropic legacy, I realize that I could have a more significant opportunity to make an impact on the organizations I choose to support. We need to start talking about this shift more explicitly, and I thank Smith alumna Patricia Annino of Prince Lobel Tye LLP for helping me to see through this lens.

Coincidentally, the next generation of women is also apt to out earn men; as Bruce Flessner of Bentz Whaley Flessner notes. With women graduating from college at greater rates than men, entering the workforce at much higher levels than ever before, and men's salaries decreasing, all institutions need to think more seriously about women and philanthropy.

WG: What are the two to three challenges that you face on a regular basis today? What keeps you up at night?

PJ: Board engagement. Board members have wonderful good intentions for being involved, but keeping them appropriately involved at the strategic & governance level, rather than at the management level where they can focus on operational issues or micro-manage staff is a continual challenge.

Also, continuing economic uncertainty is creating increased skittishness among constituents, especially when it comes to making multi-year commitments. Many donors are saying, “Right project, wrong time.” Or, “I can do it this year, but talk to me again next year for the next installment.” Such uncertainty in the world affects all of us in development work.

WG: In thinking about advancement organizations, do you envision changes in staffing and functions over the next several years?

PJ: Yes, we will continue to see new structural models. Just like we’re seeing more permeable boundaries between the for and non-profit worlds, at educational institutions I think we will see more blurring and crossover in administrative departments like the merging of student and alumnae/i affairs.

The role of technology as a tool, social media in particular, will require employees with skills that enable us to take advantage of all the opportunities that technology provides to identify and connect with prospects and donors. What will a typical advancement officer look like? I can’t say, but I suspect it will be someone that I both recognize and will be eager to understand better.

WG: From your perspective, what role does the board of trustees play in raising philanthropic support? Do you see that changing in the next five to ten years?

PJ: I am enough of a traditionalist to believe that board members must make their own philanthropic commitment before they can solicit others. Working in tandem with staff to identify donors, cultivate and solicit donors, as well as steward them is also a key aspect of what a board can and should do. Members can focus their work on whatever part of that cycle they are most comfortable with, but all board members should have specific assignments for pursuing support for the institution.

In this age of an increasing demand for transparency, I think we are seeing a move toward the center on the staff/volunteer partnership spectrum. There was a time when board members played the greater role in prospect solicitations, then the pendulum swung to primarily staff efforts. Now, I think we are approaching the sacred middle ground. We are so much more effective when we work in tandem with board members and other volunteers, and our credibility increases dramatically when staff and volunteers work in true partnership in support of an institution.

WG: In considering the alumni/ae at our respective institutions, what role or function should they be serving? Is that changing?

PJ: I often allude to the volunteer pyramid similar to gift pyramid. At places like Smith, that pyramid is largely populated with alumni/ae who are our most credible and incredible ambassadors for the institution. We regard them as one of our most valuable institutional assets. We need to leverage them both for the benefit of the institution, and to maximize the benefit they get from their own personal involvement with the institution. I am honored to be able to do this type of work every day.


Patricia Jackson, Interim Vice President for Development and Alumni Relation at the Geisel School of Medicine and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health

Patricia (Trish) Jackson has over 30 years of advancement experience at a wide variety of higher education institutions, most recently as chief of staff for the central advancement division at Dartmouth College. Previously, she served as executive director of college and foundation partnerships at the Fullbridge Program in Cambridge, MA where she sought to embed the company’s programs at colleges and universities throughout the world, and coordinated with philanthropic partners to ensure that no one was denied access to career-readiness programs due to financial constraints.

In February 2013, Trish completed her eight-year tenure as vice president for development at Smith College where she managed all fundraising initiatives including the $450 million Women for the World: The Campaign for Smith, oversaw executive education, and served as an ex officio member of the Smith College Alumnae Association Board of Directors. Prior to joining Smith in 2005, Trish was associate vice president for development at Dartmouth College, and served as vice president for education at the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) from 1998-2001 where she was also served as the primary philanthropic spokesperson for the organization. Trish has also served on the development staffs of Wheaton, Mount Holyoke, Claremont McKenna and Scripps colleges.

She is an alumna of Scripps College, and serves as a board member for her alma mater. She also has her MBA with an emphasis in economics of non-profits from the Drucker School of Management at The Claremont Graduate University. She currently serves on the boards of Christ Church at Dartmouth College; National Priorities Project; and, as chair of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at the Lilly School of Philanthropy


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