XI. Strategic Issues: Institutional Advancement

“Advancement” is a term used in universities to describe a range of related activities. In addition to fundraising, it also includes alumni affairs, community relations, institutional communication and identity.  The importance of Western’s alumni to the future of the University, outlined in Section VII of this document, requires their ongoing participation in campus life through special programs and a sense of involvement with their University.  This commitment can only be achieved through maintaining contact with our graduates and ensuring that they understand and share the aspirations of the University community. Western’s relations with our external constituencies, on the local, regional, and national levels, depend extensively on the individual activities of our faculty, staff, and students.  There is also, however, a collective institutional identity which is one of Western’s principal assets in our efforts to advance the interests of the University, whether in recruitment, gaining support for new academic initiatives, or building our reputation as a centre for scholarship.  Communicating Western’s achievements and aspirations to our broader constituencies in the external community is an important part of institutional advancement.

Private donations have become increasingly important to Western in recent years and will continue to play a major role in the University’s financial future.  Many factors contribute to this:

  • Governments now require universities to raise matching funds from the private sector as a condition of many funding programs (eg. Canada Foundation for Innovation, Ontario Student Opportunity Trust Fund, Ontario Graduate Scholarship Program, Access to Opportunities Program);

  •  Individuals, alumni and other friends of Western understand the impact of years of government restraint in operating funding to universities.  They have a new sense of personal responsibility for ensuring that the University has the resources it needs to thrive and succeed;

  • Corporate partners increasingly see the benefits of developing partnerships with universities both philanthropically and contractually with the objective of deriving a societal or business benefit;

  • Federal income tax legislation makes it more advantageous than ever before to make donations to charitable organizations, particularly through the gift of appreciated securities.

For Western, total receipted donations have increased from $4.4 million in 1983-84 to more than $33.8 million in 1999-2000.  Western’s Renaissance Campaign raised $126 million over the 1989-1994 period, including $60 million in government capital funds. Campaign Western seeks to raise $270 million, all in private funds, during the 1998-2004 period.  This represents one of the largest university fundraising campaigns ever conducted in Canada.  Still, Western is at a comparative disadvantage with other universities when it comes to endowments.  Together, the University’s and Foundation Western’s combined endowments amount to $150 million, ninth among Canadian universities. 

With increased emphasis on fundraising, the University’s advancement activities have grown. Faculty-based development officers have been hired, who work closely with Deans to advance each Faculty’s advancement and fund-raising agenda, but who report centrally to the University’s  Director of Development to ensure overall co-ordination of effort, particularly with prospective donors.  This centralized/decentralized model enables University fundraising professionals to direct the activities of fundraising staff effectively, while still allowing Faculty-based fundraising staff to work collaboratively with Deans, faculty and staff members, and Faculty-specific alumni. Particularly in today’s rapidly-changing research environment, close linkages to Faculties and Departments have become crucial in ensuring success in recognizing and meeting the highest-priority institutional needs.

We seek to build on this model of centralization/decentralization in a broader sense, which recognizes the educational process as an individual’s progress through the institution.  There is a strong interconnection among student recruitment, undergraduate study across the academic programs, student placement in internships and in their careers, and alumni participation in the University community. This continuum also involves development of public- and private-sector partnerships and the advancement of research throughout the institution.  All these activities depend on an appropriate balance between central coordination and local Departmental, School, and Faculty knowledge of student needs, academic needs, and the objectives of the units. The creative interaction between central offices and Faculties must be a mutually supportive effort; there is no room at Western in such a relationship for one party to seek advancement by disparaging the efforts of the other. All involved in Advancement activities at Western have a duty to build the reputation of the whole University and its diverse Faculties, Departments and Schools.

Related Charts

Gifts and pledges

A clear statement of University academic priorities is essential for raising private funds.  A comprehensive needs assessment process prior to the launch of Campaign Western helped frame the priorities for the current campaign.  It is important that fundraising priorities continue to mirror the University’s overall strategic directions.  Donors are demanding more accountability regarding the uses of their gifts and want to see clear measurable impact.

University advancement activities require significant interaction with corporations, foundations and individuals to cultivate, solicit and steward their support.  Many of these partners also have relationships with other units at Western including Research Western, the Registrar’s Office, Student Development Centre, Ancillary Services, the Department of Purchasing and the Faculties. Taking an approach that fully coordinates central and decentralized approaches to external relations with corporations, foundations and individuals will maximize the University’s effective interactions with these groups.


Our Commitments:

14.  Western will continue to enhance the effectiveness of institutional advancement.   Our University community will:

14.1  Maximize the synergies which exist among alumni affairs, community relations, student recruitment, student internships and career placements and fundraising through improved coordination among the units reporting to the Vice-President (External), the Registrar, the  Alumni Association, Faculties, Departments and Schools;

14.2    Seek to create life-long loyalty to the University among students and alumni by providing exceptional programs and services both during and after their time at Western;

14.3  Maintain a unified approach to University advancement, while encouraging enhanced participation at the Faculty level;

14.4  Strive to raise endowed funds, in partnership with Foundation Western, to provide for long-term financial security and independence and to secure funds for those disciplines and units that may not be able to attract targeted government funding;

14.5   Increase opportunities for advancement and fundraising staff to become thoroughly familiar with the activities of Departments, Schools, and Faculties, and assist University administrators and faculty, especially Deans, Chairs and Directors of Schools, to acquire the knowledge, skills and venues necessary to participate fully in the new fundraising environment.