You may work at a prestigious and nationally (or even internationally) known educational, healthcare, or social service nonprofit. Or, you may work at a local, small organization without a lot of general brand recognition.
Neither of those settings help predict the effectiveness or sophistication of your advancement program.
Institutions with strong brand recognition, larger teams and budgets, and significant charitable giving results can still field dysfunctional advancement programs.
Conversely, smaller nonprofits, with shoestring budgets, and much lower charitable giving results can be home to some of the most innovative and effective advancement efforts.
I once consulted with a vice president who had just completed a multi-billion campaign for a well-known higher education institution. When I asked what outcome from the campaign she was most proud of, she replied, “our development and alumni relations team are now talking with each other and working more closely together.”
While her proudest achievement during this multi-billion dollar campaign was worthy of applause, it represented little more than a baseline status between being a functional vs. dysfunctional advancement program.
Meanwhile, literally thousands of smaller, lower resourced college and university advancement teams each day implement alumni relations and development programs that work together hand-in-glove, are in constant communication, and develop fantastic joint program strategies.
The public’s general recognition of and support for an institution’s brand is never evidence of the effectiveness or ineffectiveness, the sophistication or unsophistication of the advancement program.
Never judge a book by the cover nor the advancement program by the brand.