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Monday Musings August 7



Colleagues and friends,

In the last two weeks I’ve been putting together planning meetings for the Enrollment and Advancement. These planning meetings, which coincide with the beginning of the academic year, always provide a fresh start. This annual fresh start—or reset—is one of the reasons I like working in higher ed. as much as I do; there is a cadence to the yearly cycle that invites a gear up and resetting of goals and aspirations.

Even though I know the work never ends and there is less “down-time” than ever before, the fall planning meetings always feels like a new year. In fact, I often find myself establishing resolutions about what I’ll try to do better or different this year. My faithfulness to these resolutions over the years have been a mixed bag, but lack of success has never discouraged me from setting new goals and outlining new ambitions for the year.

Do you set new resolutions for the academic year? Have you set any yet? How will you track and monitor them? Who do you share your goals with? And, do they align with the institution’s strategic plan?

Mine, like so many other things, are on a sticky note that I have to look at daily.

Below are a couple of things I’ve been thinking about over the course of past few days. As always, I invite your observations.


A thought I can’t get out of my mind

I just finished “The generosity network: New transformational tools for successful fundraising.”  (It’s the same book I referenced last week.  It’s great and I hope everyone will read it). Again, while it is a book about fundraising, it has much to teach us about relationship-building, which is essential to every job in higher education.

Until reading this book I was unfamiliar with the “SIM Challenge.” In a section discussing finding meaning in every conversation, it is suggested that following a conversation one asks themselves the following questions:

S: What surprised you?

I: What inspired you?

M: What moved you?

This is an interesting framework, in my view. One could ask these questions following a meeting with a donor, a prospective student, a parent, an alum, a colleague or even use such a framework for call reports or interview write-ups. Wouldn’t it be an interesting exercise to try to apply SIM questions for a weeks worth of meetings and interactions and see if you learn something more actionable than you are learning now?

Two things I think are worth reading (if you haven’t already done so)

I am far from self-help guy, but I do run across an occasional article that offers some perspective that I think is worth considering in my own life and sharing with others.

A few weeks ago I had a number of Facebook friends post the article, “10 ways you are making your life harder than it has to be.” I know that it looks like good “click bait,” but it’s really worthwhile. In particular, I thought the passages about unrealistic/un-communicated expectations and not being able to let go were very good.

I think this article is timely with the reset of a new academic year. Are there things on this list of 10 things that you need to address in the coming year?

“Here’s What Your Development Office is Getting Wrong” is an article that caught my attention! This is worth a quick read, if only to be reassured about the changes and improvements we are making in Development at Augustana. We are reassessing all of our metrics to make sure we are focused on those that have meaning and help us accomplish what we want to accomplish with a donor. Rather than simply focusing on the number of visits a gift officer makes, we are going to focus on making the right kind of visits from a qualitative perspective. Similar to student recruitment, there are stages we need to move a potential donor through (researched-> assigned-> qualified-> solicited-> gift closed-> stewardship of the gift). The qualitative measures will change from time-to-time, but simply setting up a visit and calling it good is a thing of the past. We are also thinking differently about how to effectively use gift officer time and some subtle shifts in the area of gift officer support and the standardization of scheduling should have a tremendous impact.

So, the bottom-line on this article is that it does not describe or define the development function at Augustana College

Something for you (and me) to think about

Last spring Jennie, the kiddos and Jennie’s parents went to Springfield to visit the Abraham Lincoln museum. They brought back t-shirts and Jennie has promised to take me sometime. But, I’ve never been. Instead, all I got was a book, “The Wit & Wisdom of Abraham Lincoln,” which I peck away at in the evenings before going to bed. I write lots of notes in the margins and turn down pages as I read things that stand out. I think it’s worth sharing President Lincoln’s wisdom regarding happiness.

The following is attributed to Lincoln and is worth thinking about:

“Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

Perhaps no truer words have been spoken.

Let me know what’s on your mind and what you are thinking about.


P.S. And, if at any time this is clogging your inbox let me know and I’ll be happy to take you off of the list.

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