One institution has a president who is deeply embedded in the advancement process, enjoys engaging with donors, and is good at this work. Another institution has a president who doesn’t enjoy advancement nearly as much and, instead, prefers spending time leading other institutional issues rather than being with donors.
One 150-year, 4-year institution has a significant history of alumni support through their robust reunion program. Another institution has a history of being a 2-year institution for 60 years before adding 4-year degrees 35 years ago.
One institution has utilized direct mail solicitations consistently for decades by sharing winsome student stories. Advancement team members at another institution have wondered over the years if “direct mail is dead” and, consequently, have paused some years in sending direct mail solicitations at all and, in other years, sent them intermittently.
Yes, it is very good to seek out and learn from other institutions. It is smart to see how other institutions are engaging in this advancement work and to be open to understanding fresh approaches and strategies.
But it’s unhelpful (and actually a waste of time in most instances) to compare your advancement program strategies and outcomes with others. The number of meaningful variables at play are far too significant to gain helpful insights between institutions.
The best comparison you can consistently make is to look in the mirror.
Is our program today more productive, more effective, engaging more donors, raising more money, etc., than it was yesterday?
That is the comparison worth making.