Latest news


20 Feb, 2024

Dear MACE member

We hope 2024 is being very good to you so far! As we zoom towards March, we want to update you on recent MACE happenings, as well as some important events and dates to look out for later in the year.

In this issue we have a range of stories, including highlights from the 2023 MACE Conference and Excellence Awards, information about the 2024 Directors’ Symposium and 2024 MACE Excellence Awards entries, and articles summarising some of the latest trends and tips related to marketing and fundraising, as provided by expert speakers at the 2023 Conference.

As we communicated at our MACE Conference in November 2023, please remember to nominate colleagues to join the MACE Board – please see the Nomination Form attached to the email sent to all members in February, and please submit your nominations by 29 February 2024. If you have already submitted a nomination form, you do not need to do so again.


Please click here for the Nomination Form and please submit your nominations by 29 February 2024


We also ask you to remember to pay your membership fees for 2024 – the fees will remain the same as last year. See the breakdown below:

Membership fees (annual): Universities and universities of technology: R8 000

Technical and vocational education and training (formerly FET) colleges: R5 500

Education role-players and service providers (Associate membership fee): R5 500

To become a member of MACE, contact the National Chairperson at

Thank you for your support, and please do share your ideas for building an even stronger MACE by contacting us at

Happy reading!


The MACE National Board of Directors




19 Feb, 2024

The MACE Excellence Awards – presented annually during a gala dinner at the MACE National Conference in the last quarter of the year – celebrates the best campaigns and other marketing, advancement, and communication achievements among member institutions.

The Excellence Awards are only open to paid-up MACE members, and each member institution nominates as many of their best projects/ campaigns as they want to, after which entries are evaluated by our panel of expert evaluators comprising senior marketing, advancement, and communication professionals hand-picked from tertiary institutions and commerce and industry.

Entries with points above the thresholds receive Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum Awards, with other prizes including the Chairperson’s Award of Excellence, MACE Award for Outstanding Research, and the Severus Cerff Award for Consistent Excellence.

Last year’s Excellence Awards Ceremony took place at Pigalle restaurant in Cape Town on the evening of Thursday 16 November 2023, marking the end of the two-day MACE Annual National Conference, hosted in 2023 by the University of the Western Cape.

The date, venue, and deadlines for entries into the 2024 MACE Excellence Awards will be announced soon, but it’s never too early to start thinking about which campaigns/ projects you want to submit – and to start preparing your entries. A well-constructed entry that adheres to the guidelines for entries can make all the difference in grabbing the recognition your project deserves!



19 Feb, 2024

Attendees at the November 2023 MACE National Conference were given access to the strategies of peers at other institutions, as well as expert advice from independent consultants. One of the recurring topics was trends in the fundraising, advancement, and donor space, and some of the speakers’ tips are highlighted here.

Peter Maher, Director of Alumni Relations at the University of the Witwatersrand, made the following key suggestions:

  • Broaden your fundraising constituency (prospect pool): In addition to alumni, maintain a relationship with everyone with an interest in your institution: parents, retired staff, friends, and local and business communities.
  • Build and continuously refine your data and a comprehensive up-to-date shared database.
  • Plan a regular ‘Giving Day’/Annual Fund as a pipeline to larger gifts.
  • Develop and use an engagement grading matrix.
  • There will be a greater focus on wealthy, major gift donors and ‘missing middle’ donors.
  • Artificial intelligence (AI) will play an increasingly important role in alumni relations, thanks to its ability to process large amounts of data and identify patterns and insights related to alumni behaviour.
  • AI can automate key tasks, including the creation of personalised, highly targeted, and more meaningful interactions with individual alumni.
  • Trends show increasing global alumni engagement, with alumni engagement applications such as Gravyty/Graduway, AlmaBase, Evertrue, and Ellucian gaining popularity.

Gary Ndlovu, a media solutions architect and Associate Senior Lecturer in Music Technology at the University of Fort Hare, presented on the topic ‘An in-depth look into the potential applications, benefits, challenges, and considerations of using ChatGPT as a tool in marketing, advancement and communication in education’. Some of his key tips included:

  • In addition to the ability to create personalised messages and emails for various stakeholder groups (or even individuals), AI such as ChatGPT can also be very helpful in grant proposal-writing, helping to articulate the institution’s needs and goals.
  • ChatGPT can also assist in event planning and coordination, by helping to create promotional materials, drafting speeches, and preparing event-related communications.

Shelagh Gastrow, advisor to the higher education, non-profit and philanthropy sectors, presented on the topic ‘University systems and policies to enhance and support advancement’. Some of her key tips included:

  • The Advancement/ Development Office should be positioned in the institution’s structure in a way that promotes maximum effectiveness (for example, consider a direct reporting line to the Vice-Chancellor/ Rector).
  • Ensure effective communication between faculties, communications, marketing, and alumni relations departments to enable alignment on prioritised projects.
  • Collaboration is needed to ensure accurate measuring of all third-stream income.
  • Specific policies are required, such as donor recognition, gift acceptance, and fundraising ethics.
  • A system for managing prioritisation of projects is key – consider a ‘prioritisation committee’ under VC leadership.
  • The Advancement/ Development Office cannot do all the fundraising a higher education institution needs. Universities should consider fundraising training for faculty and staff (possibly at induction).


Access Peter Maher’s full presentation here

Access Gary Ndlovu’s full presentation here.

Access Shelagh Gastrow’s full presentation here.


19 Feb, 2024

Marketing and communication are always evolving – and keeping an eye on the latest trends enables marketers to select which new and changing communication techniques suit your unit’s focus areas and strategies for the year ahead. Here are some of the tips gleaned from speakers at the November 2023 MACE National Conference:

Ilze Olivier, an independent consultant who specialises in strategic communication, presented on the topic ‘Future-proofing communications: Ensuring your communications strategies remain impactful and relevant’. Some of her key points included:

  • “Data is the new oil.” – The real value of data in the new era doesn’t lie in merely gathering data on customers/ target audiences; the value lies in how that data is processed, refined, analysed, and understood – and how it’s used to implement new, winning strategies.
  • The world population is set to hit 9.7 billion people by 2050 (from today’s 8.1 billion), and 65% of people will live in urban areas. This has important implications for how higher education institutions do their future-planning and future-proofing, especially in terms of potential student population growth.
  • Africa’s population is predicted to double by 2050 (from 1.4 billion in 2023).
  • In 2023, over 5.5 million international students travelled abroad to study. By 2030 this number will increase to over 7 million. English-language universities and courses are in demand, which presents an opportunity for South African universities in the increasingly competitive global marketplace for the best students.
  • Consumers have shorter attention spans today, which requires concise, visually appealing content.
  • User-generated content and influencer partnerships are gaining prominence, blurring the lines between marketing and genuine dialogue. The future belongs to those who can tell compelling stories that resonate with authenticity.
  • Chatbots powered by artificial intelligence are becoming increasingly important, offering customers instant assistance. Companies must tailor messages to suit different channels, while maintaining a consistent brand voice.

Gary Ndlovu, a media solutions architect and Associate Senior Lecturer in Music Technology at the University of Fort Hare, presented on the topic ‘An in-depth look into the potential applications, benefits, challenges, and considerations of using ChatGPT as a tool in marketing, advancement and communication in education’. Some of his key predictions included:

  • ChatGPT will be a key performance area (KPA) in marketing, communications and advancement in the future. Artificial intelligence- (AI-) driven content creation, stakeholder engagement, and data analytics will become so central to these roles that proficiency in managing and interpreting ChatGPT’s outputs will be essential.
  • ChatGPT and similar models will revolutionise content creation for marketing, communication, and advancement departments in universities. ChatGPT can analyse vast data sets and generate content that resonates deeply with each of a university’s key stakeholder groups.
  • Virtual AI assistants will increasingly enable 24/7 tailored interaction with stakeholders, such as a student enquiring about deadlines, or an alumnus asking about alumni events.
  • Data-driven insights gleaned from AI will increasingly create actionable strategies. This could be in the form of the marketing department being able to predict enrolment trends based on real-time data analytics.
  • ChatGPT and other AI can help optimise content for search engines and social media by creating a first draft of copy that is most likely to be prioritised by search engines and/or social media platforms, thereby creating higher click-through levels.
  • Crisis communications: AI can help generate data-driven and fact-based first drafts of press statements and other communications, especially at times of high pressure when emotions might be running high and/or there are significant time pressures.
  • AI can provide multilingual support, which will be increasingly important in light of the increasing numbers of international students seeking English-language tuition.


Access Ilze Olivier’s full presentation here.

Access Gary Ndlovu’s full presentation here.


19 Feb, 2024

The 7th MACE Directors’ Symposium will take place in the second quarter of 2024, with the date and venue to be confirmed soon – watch your MACE email, our website, and social media for confirmation.

The symposium is aimed at Executive Directors, Directors, Deputy Directors, and Managers in marketing, advancement, and communication at higher education and TVET institutions in South Africa. It offers a line-up of expert speakers who deliver and convene keynote speeches, panel discussions, and interactive workshops covering a range of topics relevant to marketing and communication, branding, alumni, and fundraising.

The 2023 Directors’ Symposium, which took place at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) Granger Bay Campus from 23 to 24 August under the theme ‘Sustainability in a changing higher education landscape’, debated hot topics and charted various paths forward for MACE professionals.

How artificial intelligence such as ChatGPT is changing the way we work was a particular focus area. Chantal Janneker, Senior Director: Communication and Marketing at Nelson Mandela University, presented on the topic ‘The future of communication and marketing in the digital age’, and told attendees, “The future is digital. Embrace the digital revolution in higher education. Harness its power to reach, engage, and inspire the next generation of graduates… Adaption is key. Higher education institutions must evolve to stay competitive and relevant.”

She advised MACE professionals to use tools including enhanced data analytics, to engage through social media, explore emerging technologies, and unlock potential by seizing opportunities offered by artificial intelligence, virtual reality, augmented reality, and social media.

The 2024 symposium will be a valuable opportunity for you to gain insight into the latest trends and best practices in the higher education sector.

Please look out for additional information and details about the symposium and the programme in the next few weeks.

We look forward to your attendance!


You can watch last year’s Directors’ Symposium discussions by clicking here.


19 Feb, 2024

The 2023 MACE Annual National Conference – held on 15 and 16 November 2023 at the University of the Western Cape in Cape Town – brought together over 150 delegates from member institutions, for our annual celebration of excellence and achievements among specialists and practitioners in marketing, advancement, and communication in the higher education sector.

Under the theme ‘Higher education institutions in a world of artificial intelligence (AI)’, some of the expert attendees included keynote speaker Dr Max Price, Emeritus Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape Town; Ms Yenani Madikwa, Creative Director and Brand Strategist; Ms Isabel de Necker, Senior Marketing Manager at the University of Pretoria; and Ms Phuti Mothapo, President of the Public Relations Institute of Southern Africa (PRISA).

After two days of expert presentations, peer-to-peer parallel learning and sharing sessions, the Conference culminated in the 2023 Excellence Awards Ceremony and Gala Dinner, held at the Pigalle restaurant.

The MACE Excellence Awards Ceremony takes place annually and recognises the year’s best achievements in marketing, communication, and advancement among the submissions made by member institutions, as judged by an expert MACE panel.

Last year, a record 255 entries were received from 17 institutions. The Awards Ceremony saw 82 Bronze Awards, 48 Silver Awards, 19 Gold Awards, and three Platinum Awards of Excellence handed out. The University of the Free State won the Chairperson’s Award, Stellenbosch University won the Severus Cerff Award for Consistent Excellence, and Fort Hare University won the MACE Award for Outstanding Research.

“We were very pleased with the outcomes of the 2023 National Conference,” said Silvanus Welcome, Chairperson of MACE’s Board of Directors and Director of Institutional Advancement at Walter Sisulu University. “It is always energising to gather the country’s best marketing, advancement, and communication professionals working in education – to learn from each other and help each other sharpen our skills by hearing about the latest trends and what’s working and not working for our colleagues. The Board of Directors congratulates all the winners, and looks forward to the 2024 Conference and continuing to celebrate excellence.”


See the MACE Facebook page for photos from last year’s Conference and Excellence Awards.

See the 2023 MACE National Conference Programme here.



28 Sep, 2023

For marketers in higher education, LinkedIn has evolved into more than a professional networking site; it’s a goldmine for student recruitment and brand enhancement. Here’s how you can use the power of LinkedIn’s networking tools to harness its full potential.

Leverage audience insights for targeted campaigns
LinkedIn’s rich data can help you understand your target audience better than ever. The platform has seen an 87% increase in engagement with educational content across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa since January 2020. Use this data to create targeted ad campaigns that resonate with prospective students. Segment your audience based on their interests, educational background, and career aspirations for more effective outreach.

Localisation and global outreach
UK educational providers have increased their local market focus by 47%. While global outreach is essential, don’t underestimate the power of localisation. Tailor your content to address your local audience’s specific needs and aspirations. This dual approach ensures you’re not missing out on potential students, whether they’re next door or across the ocean.

Content strategy: Educate, Engage, Convert
LinkedIn influenced 457,000 undergraduate and postgraduate enrolments in the UK in 2021. To replicate this success, your content strategy should focus on three key areas: educate, engage, and convert. Share insightful articles, industry trends, and success stories to educate your audience. Use interactive posts and quick polls to keep them engaged. Finally, solid calls-to-action and lead-generation forms can help convert this engagement into enrolments.

LinkedIn is a treasure trove for marketers in higher education, offering unparalleled audience insights, local and global outreach capabilities, and compelling content strategies. By leveraging these features, you can boost enrolments and build a robust brand presence in the educational sector.


28 Sep, 2023

As fundraising and advancement continue to evolve, staying ahead of the curve is essential for institutions aiming to make a meaningful impact.

In this article, we delve into the latest fundraising trends that are proving effective in today’s rapidly changing environment, and offer tips on finding and retaining new donors.

  • Say thank you: This research paper published in the journal Sustainability advises that disgruntled donors’ number one complaint was not receiving feedback – and a simple thank you. “The received answers indicate that it is important not only to say thank you, but to do it in such a way that the patron has the feeling of satisfaction and joy when donating,” the paper said.


  • Avoid controversial issues as far as possible: In an increasingly polarised world, it’s becoming more important than ever to focus on the mission at hand and not become involved in “culture wars”. “We should focus on donors’ philanthropic priorities, not their cultural views, and keep our personal agendas to ourselves,” says this report from the Winkler Group.


  • Take a closer look at success stories: Donations to UK universities doubled from 2012 to 2012, according to this article. Some of the success factors the report lists include “the importance of creating cultures for successful philanthropy across institutional leadership, including among academic leaders; and creating fundraising propositions that both capture the ambitions of the institution and are expressed as compelling invitations for investment in institutional success”. Among the recommendations contained in the report are to provide more structured training for people working in advancement.


  • Keep things personal: In a world increasingly defined by personalisation of products and services, fundraising also needs to shift to personalised outreach. “Fundraisers have increasingly understood this and have taken great strides to make sure that their teams are equipped with the right information needed to make all their donor communications personal and meaningful,” says this Gravyty article. This requires a greater focus on high-quality and up-to-date data on donors, and staff who are able to extract, analyse, and implement what can be learned from the data.


  • Keep them coming back: Donor retention strategies are a must-have, especially when research shows that just 20% of first-time US donors are likely to become repeat donors, while those who have donated more than once are 60% more likely to become consistent long-term donors. “Existing donors are already familiar with your organisation and have been attracted to your message in the past,” Gravyty writes. A trend to watch out for is AI software that is increasingly helping advancement teams monitor donor behaviours and patterns, and adjust and react quickly.


  • Cash is no longer king: Smart payment solutions have been a buzzword for years. This DonorBox article says that, by 2026, 60% of the world’s population will use digital wallets. If you’re not already accepting Yoco, Snapscan, Zapper and similar payment methods at your events, it’s beyond time to plan for it.


  • Explain your spend: Donor feedback in overseas studies show that one of the biggest frustrations experienced by donors is lack of feedback. “When donors give to your higher education institution, they want to know who or what they’re supporting. By showing donors the real impact of their gifts, you emphasise the fact that their donations make a tangible difference,” says this RedPath article.

28 Sep, 2023

“We are getting to the point where if a machine doesn’t understand your language, it will be like it never existed,” Prof Vukosi Marivate, Associate Professor of Computer Science at the University of Pretoria and a panellist at the MACE 2023 Directors’ Symposium, said in an earlier call to action.

Topics related to artificial intelligence (AI) and its effects on everyday lives – including how we communicate, especially in the wake of the explosive popularisation of ChatGPT less than a year ago – have been the most buzzed-about debates of this year, even more so among those of us for whom communication is a large part of our daily work.

In an era marked by the rapid advancement of technology, AI chatbots have emerged as a transformative force, poised to reshape the landscape of communication. As AI chatbots continue to evolve, their impact on communication is becoming increasingly profound.

Some of the key changes taking place that could impact communications and marketing include:

  • Customer service/ support: US research firm Gartner’s annual report on trends related to artificial intelligence indicates that, by 2025, 80% of customer service interactions will be handled by AI chatbots. In the higher education context, many institutions are already making use of scripts and bots to respond to the most common enquiries from students and parents – but we can expect the AI’s capabilities to improve rapidly, enabling a wider scope of what AI can be trusted to respond to.


  • Facilitating easier multilingualism: AI chatbots are democratising communication by breaking down language barriers. These bots can translate and transcribe conversations in real-time, making it easier for people from diverse linguistic backgrounds to interact. Rapid expansion in this capability could have significant implications in a highly diverse country such as South Africa, with 12 official languages used in our classrooms. This could also make translating and re-publishing material in various SA languages much more cost-effective.


  • Personalised marketing: One of the most significant advantages of AI chatbots is their ability to collect and analyse user data. By monitoring user behaviour, preferences, and past interactions, chatbots can offer highly targeted and personalised marketing content. They can recommend products, tailor promotions, and deliver content that resonates with individual customers. This level of personalisation has proven to be a game-changer in boosting marketing ROI.


  • Data-driven insights: AI chatbots generate valuable data and insights about customer behaviour and preferences. These insights enable companies to refine their marketing campaigns, identify trends, and adapt to changing consumer demands quickly.


  • Multi-channel marketing: AI chatbots seamlessly integrate with various communication channels, such as social media, email, and websites. This multi-channel capability allows businesses to maintain consistent messaging and branding across platforms, ensuring a cohesive and effective marketing strategy.

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.