Detailed Checklist: A Second Scenario in Planning for Advancement Efforts Overseas

Photo of the Great Wall of China

In the companion piece to this checklist, I suggested that it’s critical to plan for international advancement efforts nine months out, for three reasons. This allows you time to plan and manage your resources systematically, plan ahead and confirm your spot on your volunteers’ and donors’ calendars, and identify cost-effective travel options.


I want to offer two scenarios for planning an advancement effort overseas on such a nine-month timeline. I offer one scenario below, and one here. These two 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!

Scenario B: A Campaign Prep Launch Event – Asia, Spring 2015

Northbridge University, a mid-sized, comprehensive research university in the Midwest, will embark on a $2.0 billion capital campaign in Fall 2016. The last campaign successfully raised $1.0 billion and concluded on June 30, 2011. Goal:
Alumni, family and friend engagement and qualification visits with prospective donors – Cultivation in silent phase.


  • Staff – international alumni relations and international development officers co-host meeting to discuss overall campaign timeline, objectives of next trip’s meetings and events, the dates of the trip, and goals for global engagement with Asian community. Invited to share an update on their area:
    • International student recruitment
    • International student services
    • Study abroad officers with oversight for Asian partnerships
    • Graduate school advancement colleagues and/or liaison to School Deans
  • Volunteers
    • International advancement officers begin a list of regional Host Committee for event based on prior ability to co-host events at private clubs or their ability to introduce alma mater to suitable hotel or private event spaces
  • VIPs
    • Advancement officers from Central and Schools review the concept of the visit with faculty with Asian ties both on a personal and academic level.
    • President, Provost, Deans offices contacted to pencil in trip dates on calendar (this may have already been done as each institution has their own scheduling protocol)


  • Staff – prior to July 15, another “Pre-Campaign HK Committee” meeting occurs and the following is decided:
    • Details for the Special Event: date, location, time, lead member (s) of Host Committee
      • Event should occur when current students are still home on break and one business week before Lunar New Year
      • Invite all Asian alumni to Hong Kong event as many will travel through the city for work or on flight connections
    • A Save the Date (STD) email is sent to all active addresses for Asian community as part of a year-end recap of institutional highlights and regional news (new students from region, alumni activities, ways to volunteers, research partnerships and student/faculty profiles)
    • STD email is written in English, Mandarin and Cantonese
  • Volunteers
    • Ask all chapter leaders from Asia to post a STD on their social media pages indicating that all alumni for Asia will be invited to participate in celebrating their alma mater in January.
    • International alumni officers discuss an October site visit to Hong Kong with key volunteers. Meeting will provide opportunity to conduct walk-through of venue, have a steering committee meeting with officers/leaders and general members who want to help plan main event in January as well as other social and recruitment events to lead up to January
  • VIPs
    • Trip and event dates are confirmed on VIP calendars
    • January trip overview is added to agenda of Fall Trustee meeting


No meeting scheduled, but:

  • Current and prospective donor requests are made from Advance research
  • A “Celebrating Northbridge in Asia” web page is created, housed in the Giving pages but linked to home page, alumni and parent program pages.
  • All relevant notes are shared with planning committee via shared calendar/note page – Google Docs is an example


  • Staff – “Pre-Campaign HK Committee” meeting occurs in September before recruiters take to the road. Review progress to date including:
    • Confirming members of the leadership will travel, attend donor meetings and speak at event
    • October site-visit and planning trip schedule and objectives including
      • An admissions/alumni relations co-hosted prospective student event with Hong Kong alumni, any alumni who volunteer for admissions, and a young alumni speaker
      • A breakfast or coffee for parents and family members to cultivate their interest and participation in ongoing regional events, strengthening the institution’s presence in Asia and helping augment the guest list for January
    • Review the entire list of alumni, parents and friends produced by Advancement research paying specific attention to any principal and major donors and if they have been assigned to a development officer or a member of leadership (VP of Advancement, Dean, Provost or President).
    • Schedule of promotional marketing, preview draft invitation copy (invited to this meeting with be staff from communications/marketing and graphic design), and confirm “Celebrating Northbridge in Asia” web page content
  • Volunteers
    • Conference or Skype call between international advancement officers with key leaders to review and confirm October schedule and ask for volunteers to share profiles for “Celebrating Northbridge in Asia” web page
  • VIPs
    • President/Provost/Deans send letter (drafted by international advancement officers and communications/marketing writers) to their trustees and members of their advisory/governing boards highlighting the January trip and how it fits into the larger objectives of the forthcoming global campaign. Specifically, leadership asks members:
      • To attend events if traveling in region for business/leisure
      • Share contacts from their networks that may be interested in learning about the institution’s presence in Asia based on existing and new academic and research priorities. These contacts will be invited to the event under separate letter.
      • Members may discuss the topic further at Fall meetings on campus


  • Staff – International alumni relations and international student recruitment travel to Hong Kong for site visit and related meetings. International development officer(s) may choose to travel as well to meet existing donors, qualify new donors and co-host parent/family breakfast or coffee.
    • Advancement officers record notes of each meeting and post to Share Drive; “Celebrating Northbridge in Asia” web page updated with trip photos from events and January venue. Notes will be updated and shared at November meeting.
    • Either shipped in advance, or packed for the trip, inexpensive (but nice!) gifts are given to each volunteer or donor. Gift ideas include luggage tags, business card holders, boxed mints or chocolates wrapped in school colors and with mascot or institutional seal.
  • Volunteers
    • Hong Kong and other Asian-based alumni chapters are encouraged to host December holiday socials to continue building momentum for community and promote January reception in Hong Kong
    • Staff traveling to Hong Kong will send a thank you to the volunteer leaders and ask that they co-write a thank you for the general volunteers from Hong Kong and to everyone who attended the admissions information social and general planning meetings. Goal: training and trainers to be figureheads for alma mater in their region!
  • VIPs
    • International advancement officers work closely with VP of Advancement to steward the VIPs’ interest and additional Asian contacts.


  • Staff – “Pre-Campaign HK Committee” meeting occurs before the Thanksgiving Holiday break. Review progress to date and make decisions. Specifically,
    • Finalize January invitation copy (multi-lingual); the invitation will be sent 4 weeks from the preferred RSVP date, 10 days prior to event.
    • Finalizing event details and signing BEO with deposit:
      • Menus for food/beverage, registration area, music needs, linens, AV, speaker needs, signage and regulations, contact for advance shipping of event materials, accessibility at venue, parking policies
      • Forward copy of event invitation for venue staff’s files
  • Volunteers
    • Holiday event invitations are mailed to Hong Kong and other Asian-based alumni chapters
    • On the “Celebrating Northbridge in Asia” web page, chapter leaders from across Asia congratulate area students for early admissions acceptance
  • VIPs
    • Staff begin to prepare January trip briefing books for VIPs on trip


  • Staff – “Pre-Campaign HK Committee” meeting occurs before the Thanksgiving Holiday break. Review progress to date:
    • Invitation has been sent by email; a small number (50-100?) have been printed in hard copy for VIPs and their contacts
    • On the “Celebrating Northbridge in Asia” web page
    • Email invitations to be sent by international recruiters and international alumni relations to all early decision students and their families
    • Email invitations to be sent to college counselors from HK high schools.
    • Review of the January travel schedule from pre-departure preparations, flights, transfers, hotel information, donor meetings and special events including “Celebration of Northbridge in Asia”
  • Volunteers
    • Hong Kong and other Asian-based alumni chapters host holiday events sending pictures to central alumni relations for posting on the “Celebration of Northbridge in Asia” web page.
  • VIPs
    • January trip briefing books for VIPs are updated by December holiday break
    • Personal holiday emails are drafted and sent from VIPs to significant donors and guests attending January event and/or meetings


5 business days before travel:

  • Staff
    • Event boxes packed and shipped priority delivery to venue; get tracking #!
      • Include a print out of multi-lingual event invitation in box
    • January trip briefing books for traveling staff are finalized
    • Copy of briefing book given to supervising and support staff covering for while staff is traveling
    • Guaranteed numbers and final logistics communicated to special event venue
  • Volunteers
    • Staff to check in to review scripted remarks with volunteer speakers at events and review last minute travel details and guest list notes
  • VIPs
    • January trip briefing books for VIPs are finalized and distributed


  • A Note to Staff: hard work, coordination and communication have made this week possible. Focus on building relationships and managing the expectations of your key volunteers and VIPs!

I hope this sample scenario proves useful in helping to guide your thinking! Please share it with your peers or your staff.

An Additional Scenario

Also, please check out the previous sample scenario, which described a nine-month planning timeline for the initial meeting with a European alumni advisory group. You can find that timeline and checklist here.