Detailed Checklist: One Scenario in Planning for Advancement Efforts Overseas

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by Gretchen Dobson (Gretchen Dobson, LLC)

Happy New Year! As we saw in the first installment in my series on international advancement efforts, it is critical to know key international holidays to best inform staff or a delegation about when (and when not to travel). Once you understand those parameters, the planning must begin and adequate time is necessary to create a successful advancement initiative based on strategic outcomes.

I suggest working from nine months out. This advance planning with the academic year is necessary and intentional for several reasons:

  • First, budgets will be accessed for the same fiscal year for your advance work, travel and volunteer management needs. This creates a systematic way to fiscally plan and manage resources.
  • Second, the international initiative is competing for time with other priorities and travel for busy volunteers, donors and institutional leaders. Plan ahead and confirm your spot on their calendars!
  • And, third, international travel is not inexpensive, and the extra time will afford ample opportunity for advancement staff to shop for the travel deals and to negotiate with venues.

Advancement officers are not holding the responsibility alone for reaching out to constituents abroad. It is critical to keep the institution’s entire international agenda in mind and that requires a coordinated effort from alumni, development, special events, communications and marketing, and other departments such as admissions and graduate schools’ external relations offices. Advancement officers will also need to communicate with campus leadership and with volunteers abroad on a regular basis to best manage the expectations for everyone’s participation and support.

Everyone involved is a “brand manager” and will have a piece of the promotional timeline.


I want to offer two scenarios -- one in this article (below), and one in a follow-up article. These scenarios are precursor events or meetings that will support the overall goals of a new comprehensive campaign. I offer these scenarios in a "timeline" format to guide the staff when working with volunteers and campus VIPs. I have also included tips and checklists for each month of the planning process.

If you find these scenarios useful, please share them with your colleagues!

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