Over subsequent days, you negotiate the details of your contract. Salary, benefits, term—check. Evaluation, sabbatical, and faculty appointment—check. Job for spouse or partner—check. Car, club memberships, and president’s house renovations—check.
While your negotiating power is at its peak, there’s one more item for which every incoming president should ask: a review and benchmarking of your institution’s advancement office. One of the ways your presidency will be measured is how well you raise money; there is a straight line from the effectiveness of your advancement office to your personal success. The stakes are even higher if the institution is planning a capital campaign.
When you request a review of your advancement department and compare it with peer operations, you’ll have solid data that shows the effectiveness of that office. You’ll see if the people are deployed in the most efficient manner. You’ll see how much it costs to raise the support your institution needs. You’ll see if the office has enough resources to do its job, or if it wastes money.
The very best time for a review is before you assume your presidency. If you need to make leadership changes or restructure the office, know what you need to do before you walk in the door. Reviews are uncomfortable any time for an advancement office, but if you wait a year or more into your tenure before requesting one, the stress will be worse. And by then it’s not just the institution’s development office—it’s yours.
Ask for a review before you accept the job, and you’ll increase the chances that your presidency will be a success.