NC Session Descriptions

Pre-Conference Workshop

Gift Planning Fundamentals: A CCAE – CAGP Partnered Workshop

Paul Nazareth, Vice President of Community Engagement, CanadaHelps

This session is specifically designed to provide an overview of the basics of strategic charitable-gift planning. You will gain a comprehensive knowledge of the variety of donation methods, conversations and types of gift vehicles at your disposal. You will more deeply understand the benefits and features of a gift planning program and learn about what needs to be in place to get started or evolved from its current status in your organization. You will leave this session with a better understanding of Canadian philanthropic trends, current charity tax treatment as well as vital major-gift tactics as the methods of giving converge in 2017 and beyond.

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Advancement as a Profession – a lifelong dream comes true. What?!

Jason Moreton, CCAE “has-been” (Past) President; Associate Vice-President, Alumni Advancement at the University of Guelph

Think back to grade school. When the teacher asked what you wanted to become, you said “an educational advancement professional”’. What?!

Whatever the path you took to get here, this session will provide group therapy for the highs and lows of our careers. The discussion will include lessons learned, do’s and don’ts, trends, themes and best practices in advancement. We will speak about the ever-growing number of customers we need to please, the amount of tasks we are asked to accomplish in a single day, demanding and out-of-touch bosses, colleagues who wear Teflon, and our daily fight with students to find the best parking. In the end, you will know you are part of a most wonderful profession!

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Professional Development Sessions

A Secret Weapon for Engaging Young Alumni

Fred Weiss, President & CEO, iModules Software

Your institution’s alumni base is changing. Larger graduating classes mean younger graduates now make up more of the alumni base. To engage with this group, you need multiple tactics, including one you may already have – student involvement data.

Join Fred Weiss to learn about the effect of student involvement on alumni engagement, how student affairs and alumni offices can work collaboratively, and strategies for both departments to reap the benefits.

Participants in this session will learn:

  1. How to identify why young alumni are an important group to target.
  2. How student involvement data affects alumni engagement.
  3. How educational institutions use these data to increase engagement.

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Write your own story: Encouraging stakeholders to join the campaign conversation

Phil Sach, Advancement Writing Specialist; and Upasna Sharma, Digital Analyst, York University

As with any university fundraising campaign, telling the institution's story is of the utmost importance. However, collecting and showcasing these stories in a compelling way can present some interesting challenges. At their on-campus launch of Impact: The Campaign for York University, York used a social media photo contest. This enabled the seamless creation of a bank of succinct, shareable stories by directly engaging with students, staff, faculty and alumni and inviting them to participate in the campaign conversation. The success of this initiative established a new, more effective strategy for telling York’s story of impact.

Participants in this session will:

  1.     Learn how to successfully use direct audience engagement to collect content for campaign communications.                      
  2.     Discover opportunities to engage non-campaign-focused staff in the campaign conversation.  
  3.     Find creative ways to build a greater understanding of campaign priorities and purpose among key internal audiences (students, faculty and staff).
  4.     Engage and involve internal audiences in telling compelling stories of impact that can then be used to influence external audience behaviors.

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Retaining and developing your people...your most important asset

Mila Miller, Executive Director, Strategic Planning and Advancement Organizational Development, University of Toronto; and Trish Chant-Sehl, Director of Administration for University Advancement, McMaster University

Mila and Trish will share two different perspectives on advancement human resources programs and initiatives, both of which are helping to create a culture of employee engagement and increase staff retention. They will cover topics from both an emerging program and how it is developing, and an established, comprehensive program.

Areas of discussion will include orientation and on-boarding; using technology as a resource; training and development; engagement and community building; recognition opportunities; and building your talent pipeline.

Regardless of the size of your advancement shop or the stage of your HR programs, this session will provide you with real examples of HR programs in the post-secondary advancement environment, and highlight why spending time on these initiatives is so important to the success of your team and your retention strategy.

Participants in this session will learn:

  1. How to keep your best performers.
  2. How to develop and adapt talent management strategies, regardless of the size of your shop.
  3. Why it’s important to allocate time and resources to people planning.

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Wiki Wisdom: Using a wiki to build a high-impact advancement shop

Lisa Bullock, Research Officer; and Margaret Tannahill-Wade, Prospect Management Officer, Carleton University

What happens if a staff member goes on extended leave, or better yet, wins the lottery? Who else knows the details of how to do that person's work? Training, continued participation, and on-boarding can be accomplished easily and quickly with the help of a comprehensive wiki (knowledge transfer).

Topics and processes articulated in a wiki provide an accessible resource for the staff member and colleagues. A well-planned architecture and templates create consistency and ease of access to information and processes, making your advancement shop more efficient and collaborative. The wiki exists as a living document to ensure ongoing success for individuals and the advancement team.

Participants in this session will learn:

  1. What a wiki is and the importance of a wiki in the advancement context.
  2. How to identify important topics and processes to capture in a wiki.
  3. About Carleton University's advancement wiki project and results.
  4. Tips about change management.

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Multi-generational strategies

Aisling Lynch, Primary Gifts Research Officer, McGill University

This session will explore the reasons why an organization might decide to implement a tracking strategy for multi-generational wealth, and the benefits that could potentially be generated. Aisling will present examples of different cases where such a tracking strategy can be employed. The presentation will also discuss the roles of the various collaborators in these strategies, from faculties to Alumni Relations. The session will focus primarily on UHNW families capable of making transformative gifts.

Participants in this session will learn:

  1. How to identify the organizational need for a multigenerational tracking strategy.
  2. An overview of tracking strategy at McGill that can be adapted to other institutions.
  3. Discussion of which internal units can collaborate to develop the strategy
  4. Identifiers for target outcomes from implementation of a multigenerational strategy

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Parallel Foundations: Fundraising friends, not foes

Kathy Butler, Director, Advancement & Alumni, Okanagan College and Executive Director, Okanagan College Foundation; and Margaret H. Mason, Partner, Norton Rose Fulbright Canada

“Parallel” charitable foundations that are closely affiliated with colleges, cégeps and polytechnics are common fundraising structures in Canada. Such foundations can play a vital role in raising and managing private sector resources, yet the strategic use and effectiveness of such affiliated foundations varies considerably. Some operate as the primary fundraising arm of the organization with active volunteer leadership, while others act as investment-management arms or, increasingly, entrepreneurial or social enterprise partners.

Even as foundations take an increasingly active role in fundraising, real estate and entrepreneurial activities, tensions and misunderstandings can develop between the operating institution and foundation boards. The traditional fundraising model within which foundations and institutions have historically operated may need some revamping.

Join Kathy Butler, Executive Director of the Okanagan College Foundation, and Margaret Mason, lawyer, to discuss best practices and considerations for the institution / foundation relationship. They will explore many questions around collaboration versus unnecessary duplication of efforts; competing or harmonized priorities; shared standards and accountabilities; effective recruitment and use of volunteers; measuring the return on investment; and how foundations can play a greater, more strategic role.

Participants in this session will learn:

  1. A deeper understanding of the need for institutionally-related foundations and their independence.
  2. How to develop practices to mitigate potential foundation-institution conflicts.
  3. How foundations and institutions can most effectively advance fundraising forshared priorities and entrepreneurial activities.

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Behind the evolution what we wished we had known and what we learned along the way

Barbara Miles, Vice-President, Development and Alumni Engagement; Jeff Todd, Associate Vice-President, Alumni, and Executive Director, alumni UBC; Hillary Gosselin, Managing Director, Development, University of British Columbia

Get behind the curtain of the most successful fundraising and alumni-engagement campaign in Canadian history. Building on our personal experiences and using the pre- and post-campaign perspectives on both the alumni and the fundraising functions, this session outlines the twists and turns of a seven-year campaign. Find out the lessons learned, the lessons not learned and, of course, the inevitable ‘black swans’. Come along for the ride!

Participants in this session will learn:

  1. Lessons of the campaign from both a fundraising and alumni-engagement perspective – and the complex relationship between the two.
  2. First-hand stories about the personal experiences that shaped the campaign along the way.
  3. The importance of hindsight in campaign planning.

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Improving Productivity and Customer Service in Advancement Services

Marco Greco,  Senior Programmer, Advancement Services; Mark Patel, Systems Coordinator, Advancement Services; Chrystal Shafiee, Advancement Services Clerk, Office of University Advancement; and Jeff Chuchman, Associate Director, Advancement Services, McMaster University

Learn more about two new initiatives implemented by Advancement Services to enhance its daily operations:

(1) Customer Service is a ‘must have’. The Advancement Services “Systems team” has shifted its view of the customer (the people we serve) from being an interruption to our job, to being the reason we have a job.

(2) Remit is a system for automated scanning, reading and loading cheques and pledge cards.  Benefits include streamlined gift processing, improved productivity, accuracy and the elimination of paper-based storage, which improves our ability to manage increased demands and implement a more donor-centric approach. 

Participants in this session will learn:

  1. How to move away from data entry to data management.
  2. About easy-to-use pledge card scanning recognition and data archiving.
  3. How to gain improved turnaround time and productivity.
  4. The result: Improved customer service and user satisfaction.

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One Million Hours of Volunteerism

Rachel Meehan, Director, Alumni Relations; and Sachelle Violette - Alumni Officer, Communications, Laurentian University

Learn how Laurentian University increased alumni engagement while not increasing the amount of time alumni had to invest. The One Million Hours of Volunteerism strategic plan initiative developed a new alumni culture by engaging graduates with their alma mater through positive community-building activities on campus, in their community and across the globe. This strategic and unique marketing campaign helped differentiate Laurentian University from other institutions, as its alumni were encouraged to collectively donate one million hours of volunteerism, to document their activities and to celebrate a community achievement.

Participants in this session will learn:

  1. A new way to engage graduates from all decades.
  2. Innovative ways to garner national recognition for your institution.
  3. How to think about alumni programming in a way that leverages existing alumni behaviours.
  4. Greater understanding of why data-driven decisions are crucial.

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Enhanced donor experience and institutional accountability through cross-team collaboration and use of technology   

Dave Dawson, Public Relations Coordinator; Claudia Russell, Senior Development Officer; and Sarah Thurlow, Advancement Analyst, McMaster University

McMaster has enhanced the experience for its donors, as well as its institutional accountability, with three new initiatives. Through cross-team collaboration and use of evolving technologies, Mac has aligned information management and documentation to better serve donor relations, internal operations, data processing and the University’s requirements for due diligence and risk management.

This session will provide the opportunity to learn more about three initiatives that resulted from a successful collaboration between Advancement Services, Stewardship and Donor Relations, and Alumni Advancement. A Donor Acknowledgement System (DAS) was introduced to create the best donor experience possible. Integrating new technologies, McMaster improved acknowledgement turnaround and instituted the capability for donor-specific acknowledgment.

This session will demonstrate how Mac customized the acknowledgement process to enhance the donor experience. On-line donor reporting using an alumni web community (iModules) enhanced the existing web presence of the alumni association to accommodate fund reporting and allow select donors quick on-line access to their annual donor report.

McMaster implemented a new DocuCapture document management system to more efficiently store and process gift documentation.

Participants in this session will learn:

  1. How to use an existing web platform to generate personalized web content for donor relations.
  2. How to recognize areas of improvement for acknowledging gifts, and discover the path to a more donor-centred acknowledgement.
  3. Through the use of evolving technologies and team integration, using tools tocreate the best donor experience.
  4. Areas of opportunity for collaboration between Advancement Services, Stewardship and Donor Relations, and Alumni Advancement.

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Anonymous donors

Semere-ab Abiyo, CPA, CGA, CPA, Director of Alumni and Donor Services, University of Toronto

From time to time donors request to be anonymous. Sometimes it is for small gifts and other times it is for multimillion-dollar gifts. Some donors are anonymous for everything they give and others want to be anonymous on selected gifts.

Anonymity involves prospect management, fundraising, gift administration, stewardship, finance, audit and other sectors. This session reviews ideas on how institutions can look at the various aspects of anonymous-donor management and opens the floor for discussion on best practices.

Participants in this session will discuss:

  1. Levels of anonymity.
  2. Systems implications
  3. Communication protocols.
  4. Best-practice tips for administrators, fundraisers, and stewardship officers.

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Strength In numbers: A case study in alumni donor participation

Adam Bishop, Senior Programs Officer, Lakefield College School Foundation

The award-winning Hepburn Alumni Challenge sought to transform alumni donor participation at Lakefield College School. With an innovative gift incentive driven by a $3M leadership gift, the program surpassed expectations, achieving 40% alumni participation. This session will examine the program goals, execution, and lessons learned through implementation.

Participants in this session will:

  • Develop a clear understanding of the keys to success in creating and implementing an alumni participation program.
  • Understand the impact / benefit of participatory giving for educational institutions.
  • Grasp the need to be nimble and appropriately reactive when planning and executing an appeal targeted at an entire alumni base.

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Enhancing data: Creating a three-tier model

Dr. Jun Du, Data Modelling and Analytics Analyst (Advancement Operations); and Drew Martin, Director of Technology Services (External), Western University

This session will walk through the strategy of in-house data modeling to identify “best” potential donors. We will examine the strategy of Alumni Engagement metrics tracking and introduce an external data source – in our case Environics – to assess donor capacity. Finally, we will study the from all angles how one can use data-modeling results to support fundraising.

We use a three-tier model to obtain a robust picture of prospects and their propensity to support the institution. We will walk through the three tiers to demonstrate their particular strengths and to illustrate how, in combination, they provide a fulsome view of a given prospect.

The three tiers are:

  • In-house data modelling using our alumni data set.
  • Engagement measurement (tracking and grading engagement with the institution through alumni activities).
  • Enhanced understanding of giving potential with the introduction of an external wealth indicator resource (Environics).

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Leveraging analytics to drive major gift donations, engagement and loyalty

Gilbert Tordjman, Executive Director of Advancement Services; and Raji Zreik, Analytics Team Lead, Office of Advancement and Alumni Relations, Concordia University

This session will walk through the key steps to setting up a healthy major gifts program. It will cover capacity, inclination and affinity as well as using analytics to identify major-gift prospects.

Participants in this session will learn about:

  • The five pillars of setting up a successful Analytics Program at University Advancement.
  • The analytics
  • Data integrity.
  • Collaborative culture.

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Play the ponies: mascots, puppies & people for the social media win at #WesternU

Melissa Cheater, Digital Content Manager, Western University

How do we get from #offtowesternu and the first day of school, to #purpleandproud families three generations deep? Three parts story-telling, season liberally with video loops - and ask your audience to say "when". You’ll need a kitchen built for teamwork, and the right tools will make your job a lot easier.

Western’s community-first approach to social media brings together more than 100 staff and faculty through meet-ups, “bootcamp” and ambassador training plus a campus-wide Hootsuite implementation.

Participants in this session will learn about:

  • Creating & sustaining communities via hashtags.
  • Defining a social media audience.
  • Current trends in video, social media and web content.
  • Internal collaboration strategies.
  • Social media software selection and implementation.

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Getting it done right instead of first: How UNB's policy shifted public perception of how the university responds to sexual assault

Sonya Gilks, Director of Communications, University of New Brunswick

This session offers a case study on how UNB managed to change public perception of how the university responds to and prevents sexual assaults on its campuses. It will demonstrate how the creation of a strong policy and procedures contributed to a safer, more-welcoming environment and how the university overcame negative perception. It will give others the chance to share information about what their schools are doing to address this important issue.

This session will:

  • highlight lessons learned and advice for those going through the process;
  • showcase how UNB overcame negative public perception in regards to its sexual assault support and response;
  • demonstrate how strong policy and procedures contributes to beneficial communications.

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Dare to care

Christine Szustaczek, Director of Corporate Communications & External Relations; Mia Fatrdla, Senior Manager of Marketing & Communications, Sheridan Student Union; Sunand Sharma, Manager of Student Rights and Responsibilities, Sheridan College

Post-secondary institutions have an important role to play in preventing and addressing sexual violence and harassment. Investigative reports by CBC, MacLean’s and the Toronto Star in 2014-15 brought the issue to the public mindset, while new stories routinely appear in newspapers criticizing the efforts of various institutions. In Ontario, action plans and regulations have also mandated institutional responses.

This presentation outlines how one institution galvanized the will and the right players to establish a stand-alone sexual assault policy and launch a series of ongoing initiatives aimed at shifting the focus away from reacting to sexual assault to empowering sexual respect.

This session will:

  • Provide a model that can be replicated by other institutions looking to establish a similar policy and suite of initiatives of their own.
  • Discuss the membership and responsibilities of our cross-institutional task force to facilitate training and education, and efforts to empower internal champions to spread our messages broadly and consistently.
  • Explain Sheridan’s deliberate approach to involving student government, keeping messages positive, framing the issue as a community-wide problem; and challenging our community to intervene safely, understand the importance of consent, and create a culture of caring.

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Social media engagement in a crisis situation - case study

Patrick Charette, Director, Institutional Communications; and Marcellin Mutoni, Social Media Specialist, University of Ottawa

In today’s social media environment an incident can quickly dominate the conversation on Twitter, Facebook and other platforms. How should post-secondary institutions react? How can communications specialists best advise the handling of sensitive issues in such public forums?

This is a case study of how uOttawa managed two specific incidents using social media to engage its student population and other key audiences. This will serve as the springboard for an open discussion on the use of social media in crisis situations and the approaches university communicators should take.

This session will:

  • Present the challenges and opportunities in using social media in crisis management and use 2 case studies to illustrate various approaches.
  • Open the discussion on how universities can cope with social media madness, especially in crisis situation, and how best to engage with audiences.
  • Share insights and lessons learned from incidents and views on this topic.

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Building long-term relationships with future and young alumni: The uO2.0 Program

Cindy Demontigny, Alumni Relations Officer, University of Ottawa

uO2.0 focuses on the career development of University of Ottawa’s future alumni and recent graduates and on helping them prepare for the job market. The program comprises a variety of activities and services designed to meet the particular needs of this clientele, facilitate the sharing of knowledge and experiences among all alumni, and help future alumni and recent graduates learn from those who have come before them and develop professional networks.  uO2.0 is an initiative of the Alumni Relations Office, in partnership with the Career Development Centre, faculties and services.

Participants in this session will:

  • Discover how University of Ottawa has built a program to engage future and young alumni.
  • Learn about the strategy and initiatives developed by the Alumni Relations Office to mobilize services and faculties.
  • Learn how this program has strengthened relationships between different generations of alumni.

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Content that delights

Erin O'Neil, Alumni Officer, Digital Engagement; and Lori Moulden, Senior Development Officer, Annual Giving, McMaster University

Learn how McMaster created and shared content to delight and educate our alumni. In the last two years, McMaster upped the ante on our digital content strategy. We refocused our digital presence in an attempt to engage and delight our increasingly diverse population of graduates - both demographically and geographically - who are asking “What’s in it for me?" Learn about two specific, easily implemented programs and start engaging your grads in a new way today.

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Enhanced endowment fund reporting: Adding faces to the financials

Jodeen Litwin, Stewardship Officer; and Kate Holt, Senior Stewardship Officer, University of Alberta

Donors to endowed chairs, professorships and scholarships are often among your most significant donors. How can you better demonstrate the impacts of their gifts to endowed funds in annual endowment fund reports? Find out how the University of Alberta developed processes for scholarship donors to receive messages of gratitude and personal information or profiles from their student recipients, and transformed mandatory and often lengthy research chair reports into an effective stewardship initiative. Alongside customized stewardship reports and communications, these two projects have individualized endowment fund reporting, provided faculties with information they can share, and gladdened the hearts of our most loyal donors.

Participants in this session will learn to:

  • Encourage improved stewardship for top donors through enhanced, individualized reporting.
  • Identify and prepare for potential challenges and obstacles before new processes are initiated.
  • Develop procedures to encourage and ensure annual processes that, while systemized, remain highly personalized.

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Evolving leadership - Top 10 things (I think) you need to know about leadership today

Kristy Rousseau, Director of Development, Laurentian University

Leadership is evolving. Not many of us have the luxury to focus completely on leading our teams or managing our people. With reduced resources and increasing demands, we wear many hats. In today's competitive advancement arena it is crucial that we spend time developing our leadership skills and focusing on leading teams.  This session will provide insight into critical leadership skills, ideas on how to improve them, and encourage attendees to make leadership a priority in their operations.

This session will:

  • Provide an overview of important leadership concepts including staff engagement and retention.
  • Provide resources for further learning on each topic.
  • Demonstrate why we need to focus more time on leadership in advancement.

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Staking your claim in a shrinking media landscape: Panel discussion

With one-third of Canadian journalists having lost their jobs in the last six years, and space and air time at a premium, it’s harder than ever to place stories in the news. Media-relations specialists from McMaster University, the University of Waterloo and Mohawk College discuss strategies to help small teams make the most of their content.

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Crowdfunding in a post-secondary setting

Darren Nodrick, Annual Giving and Communications Officer, University of Winnipeg Foundation

In fall 2014, University of Winnipeg was one of the first Universities in Canada to implement a crowdfunding platform as a part of our annual giving strategy. In the first year alone, we were able to increase funds raised online by more than 350%, and our number of online donors by over 500%. This has not only helped grow our fundraising totals, but also allowed us to reach an audience well beyond our traditional alumni and donor group to showcase UWinnipeg initiatives such as research, programming, capital projects, and scholarships and bursaries. This session will explain how UWinnipeg accomplished this, and the benefits that have resulted.

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Let's talk about death (and fundraising), baby

Janice L. St-Denis, CFRE, Development, McMaster University

In the 1990s when Salt-N-Pepa came out with an edgy song (“Let’s talk about sex, baby”), one of the intents behind it was to address the overarching attitude of censorship toward the topic of sex. In today’s society, sex is less taboo . . . but has the subject of death taken its place?

As fundraisers, we are faced with the topic of death as we help our donors plan their legacies or facilitate in memoriam gifts. I believe if we can make ourselves more comfortable (whatever that means for you) with the subject of death, we enable ourselves to be better, more compassionate, and more effective fundraisers - meeting the donor where their comfort level is. A donor may prefer to ignore the eventuality of death, be coming to terms with his or her own mortality, or be completely at ease with the subject. We need to be ready to meet them there.

This session will help to encourage face-to-face fundraisers to have a more open attitude toward death, and a cursory understanding of how best to react to the grief of donors that we work with.

Participants in this session will:

  • Assess the use of platitudes and euphemisms in today’s society.
  • Identify and recognize concrete tips for interacting with grieving donors.
  • Learn to interpret and articulate a practical theory for addressing death in conversations.

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Maximizing data integrity to decrease lost alumni rates

Janice Van Der Klugt, Manager, Alumni & Gift Services; and Drew Martin, Director, Technology Services, Western University

This session will provide a verbal snapshot of Western University's past data integrity efforts. With the creation of a dedicated Data Integrity team, multiple e-communications, database audits and tracing strategies were implemented to assist in decreasing lost alumni rates. Initial results within a two-year period produced a 4% decrease in losses. Efforts to continue this decline are continually underway.

Participants in this session will:

  • Learn how the Western University Data Integrity team implemented a strategy to assist in lowering lost alumni rates.
  • Find out what e-strategies produced the highest number of alumni connections.
  • Discover the outcomes tracing and e-communications can deliver for your institution.

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Stewardship – It’s Everyone’s Job

Susan Wright, Director, Stewardship and Donor Relations, McMaster University

Proper stewardship of the gifts our institutions receive takes careful consideration and becomes an essential component of any successful fundraising and advancement program. In this session we will discuss the critical importance of engaging the entire campus community to effectively steward gifts and engage our partners in strategic donor relations.

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Trends in Advancement Talent Development

How are you tackling retention and growth of your highest-potential advancement staff? Do you have a leadership development framework and plan in place? How do you know if your compensation and perks are competitive in the market?

KCI’s Tara George and Celeste Bannon Waterman will share insights and learnings regarding retention, recruitment, training,and compensation for alumni, fundraising, advancement services and marketing communications professionals. Tara will then moderate a panel discussion to highlight innovative approaches taken by several Canadian universities.

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National Partners


2017 CCAE National Conference Sponsors



Manulife Tempo Framing  


Canada Life   



The Offord Group Tourism Hamilton


Global Philanthropic