TUCSON, Ariz. – In February, chief institutional advancement officers from Council for Christian Colleges & Universities campuses convened at the stunning Loews Ventana Canyon, located high above Tucson’s Catalina Mountains, to discuss best practices, to be renewed in the vision for their role in carrying out their colleges’ mission, and to enjoy fellowship with other CCCU advancement professionals.
Attendees who arrived early enough on the first day of the February 22-24 conference had the opportunity to participate in a golf outing on one of the resort’s championship golf courses. Later a newcomers’ reception welcomed first-time attendees.
“Attending the CIAO conference was a great opportunity to connect with peers across the country who are busy about the work of Christian higher education development,” said April Moreton, director of development at John Brown University in Siloam Springs, Ark. “Sharing ideas, hearing best practices, and collaborating on the future was invaluable. Attending the Newcomers workshop was a great start to the conference.”
The conference’s speakers included Donald Meyer, James Langley, and Robert Burdenski. Meyer, past president of Baillie Lumber Company and past chairman of CCCU member Wheaton College’s board of trustees, delivered the opening address Wednesday evening: “Why Advancement Matters: A Giver's Take on the Advancement Task.” From the perspective of one who has pondered the meaning of being a thoughtful and faithful Christian steward, the successful businessman addressed the eternal value of advancement officers’ work and calling.
Thursday’s sessions were encapsulated by the theme “Advancement Is Not a Department: Christian Community and the Advancement Task.” Langley delivered four sessions that day, interspersed with breaks, meals, and lunchtime roundtable sessions. Langley is president of Langley Innovations and previously served as vice president for advancement at Georgetown University. He is a noted and accomplished innovator in institutional advancement, known for his original ideas as well as his ability to incorporate best practices from numerous fields in order to create bold and highly productive solutions.
His session covered such topics as articulating the cause of Christian higher education and how to advance it; strengthening connections to an institution’s strongest donors and prospects; involving the entire campus community in building, mobilizing, and sustaining support; and integrating cause, connection, and community for the Christian university.
“The CIAO conference combined exceptional value with an opportunity to relate with peers in a comfortable atmosphere as Christian colleges and universities strive to move people to a partnership commitment, based on the value they perceive in our institutions,” said Dan Mills, chief advancement officer at Arizona Christian University in Phoenix. “As good stewards, we have a responsibility to [offer] clearly-developed plans for what partners are providing through our institutions as we prepare our graduates to transform other lives—and then [we need to] tell these partners what actually happened!”
Amy Bragg Carey, vice president for institutional advancement at Northwestern College in St. Paul, Minn., said, “This year’s conference was both inspirational and rich with content. It reminded us of the important work we do in the area of advancement and the possibilities before us if we positively strengthen connections with donors in ways that are meaningful and inspire their hearts.”
Friday’s focus was “The Annual Fund: Securing Broad Support for the Mission of the University.” Burdenski, principal at Robert Burdenski Annual Giving and an internationally-recognized annual giving consultant, led two sessions for conference participants, focusing on trends in annual giving and on the annual fund. His session explored such questions as: Who is giving, who is not? Social media: fad or vehicle for annual giving success? Do “needs” wear out donors, and what can be done about it? How can institutions involve staff, faculty, board members, and advisors in regular commitments to the annual fund?
"Being a first time attendee I wasn't sure what to expect. What I found was one of the best conferences I have attended in years,” said Reed Sheard, vice president for college advancement and chief information officer at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, Calif. “Raising support for our respective CCCU institutions has never been more important and I feel much better prepared to lead my team as a result of having attended the conference. I was truly inspired by the speakers."
About the CCCU: The Council for Christian Colleges & Universities is a higher education association of 185 intentionally Christ-centered institutions around the world. The 116 member campuses in North America are all fully-accredited, comprehensive colleges and universities with curricula rooted in the arts and sciences. In addition, 69 affiliate campuses from 25 countries are part of the CCCU. The Council’s mission is to advance the cause of Christ-centered higher education and to help its institutions transform lives by faithfully relating scholarship and service to biblical truth. Visit www.cccu.org.