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2023 Directors’ Symposium debates hot topics and charts path forward

28 Sep, 2023

“How do you make fundraising a pleasant activity?… Turning advancement on its head was really about: how do you attract money to an institution rather than chase money?”

This was just one of the topics addressed during the 2023 Directors’ Symposium, hosted by MACE in conjunction with the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) at its Granger Bay Campus on 23 and 24 August 2023.

In the opening session, “Key pillars for Advancement: Marketing, Communication and Fundraising”, Ms Shelagh Gastrow, a consultant to the higher education, non-profit and philanthropy sectors, examined the current thinking and trends related to fundraising and advancement, and how they relate to the other MACE focus areas. “It’s about building a massive external safety net that supports the institution not only with regular money, but [also] enables the institution to become resilient.”

The symposium featured a host of expert speakers, including keynote speeches, panel discussions, and interactive workshops covering a range of topics relevant to marketing and communication, branding, alumni, and fundraising.

Some of the other topics discussed included “Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Alumni Relations: How AI has and will contribute to Alumni Relations”, with Mr Nell Ledwaba and Mr Victor Khangale of the University of Johannesburg, and “The future of communication and marketing in the digital age”, with Ms Chantal Janneker, Senior Director: Communication and Marketing at Nelson Mandela University.

The symposium also welcomed contributions from Programme Facilitator Prof Anesh Singh, Director: Institutional Advancement at the University of the Western Cape; Ms Nonku Pitje, Chief Growth Officer: Discovery Health & Head of Group Strategic Client Solutions Hub; Prof Vukosi Marivate, Associate Professor of Computer Science at the University of Pretoria; and Dr Sibusiso Chalufu, NWU Executive Director: Student Life and Transformation and President: South African Association of Senior Student Affairs Professionals (SAASSAP).

“The future is digital. Embrace the digital revolution in higher education. Harness its power to reach, engage, and inspire the next generation of graduates,” Ms Janneker said in her closing session.

“Adaption is key. Higher education institutions must evolve to stay competitive and relevant,” she said, adding that communicators can use tools including enhanced data analytics, engaging through social media, exploring emerging technologies, and unlocking potential by seizing opportunities offered by artificial intelligence, virtual reality, augmented reality, and social media.

You can watch the full coverage of both days’ discussions by clicking here.