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  • Writer's pictureKevin Leahy

The Evolving Role of Vice President of Advancement Services

The role of Vice President of Advancement Services has historically involved keeping track of a combination of stacks of paper, scanned documents, and email accounts.


The Evolving Role of the Vice President of Advancement Services
The Evolving Role of the Vice President of Advancement Services

However, as the complexity of gift agreements and processes continues to grow, Advancement Services VPs are increasingly moving towards a more digital iteration of the role. As technology and innovation integrate with everyone’s work, fundraising’s operations experts increasingly rely on digital tools to help with the gift agreement process.  


To get a sense of why this trend is growing and what the future holds for Advancement Services, let’s take a look at what the field looks like today and how digital solutions can improve quality of life for fundraising’s data and operations leaders. 


The Role of the Advancement Services VP

The VP of Advancement Services is the person responsible for building and maintaining the team that operates as the critical backbone of operations and systems that effectively and efficiently drive organizational fundraising. They are generally considered the point person for internal and external stakeholders for everything records related. This broad category encompasses a range of activities, including but not limited to:


Database Management:

Maintaining accurate and comprehensive records of donor information, gifts, pledges, and interactions. This includes the use of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems to track donor engagement, preferences, and history.


Gift Processing:

The administrative process of receiving, recording, and acknowledging donations. This involves ensuring that gifts are processed correctly and in a timely manner, issuing receipts, and managing any legal or tax-related documentation.


Research and Prospect Management:

Identifying potential donors and researching their giving capacity, interests, and connection to the organization. This involves strategic analysis to support targeted fundraising initiatives and personalized donor engagement strategies.


Compliance and Reporting:

Ensuring that all fundraising activities comply with relevant laws and ethical standards, including those related to data protection and privacy. It also involves generating reports for internal and external stakeholders to demonstrate fundraising progress and impact.


Stewardship:

Developing and implementing strategies to nurture ongoing relationships with donors. This includes communicating the impact of their gifts, recognizing their contributions, and engaging them in meaningful ways to encourage continued support.


Technology and Systems Integration: 

Leveraging technology to streamline advancement services operations, improve data accuracy, and enhance donor engagement. This includes the integration of fundraising software with other organizational systems to ensure seamless operation and information flow.


Advancement Services VPs play a critical role in enabling nonprofit organizations to build and sustain meaningful relationships with donors, ensuring the necessary resources are in place to effectively support their missions and strategically multiply impact.


VP of Advancement Services Skillset

Advancement Services – including database management and gift processing – requires a lot from the professionals choosing this humble and mighty field. Proficiency in the following skills are absolutely vital for any successful Advancement Services professional, especially the team’s leader:


Legal knowledge: 

A basic understanding of required details and information to legally record gifts and intentions is essential. Advancement Services professionals need to ensure that pledge forms and gift agreements comply with internal procedures as well as legal requirements in order to protect their organization's interests.


Communication skills: 

Effective communication is vital for clarifying internal processes as well as terms of gift agreements, addressing concerns, and building positive relationships with all parties involved in the donation(s). Both written and verbal communication skills are important.


Attention to detail:

Gift agreements – particularly those multi-year, restricted pledges – are often complex documents, and even small errors or oversights can have significant consequences. Advancement Services needs to be meticulous and detail-oriented in reviewing and drafting contracts.


Analysis: 

Analyzing documentation operations and procedures, identifying risks, and proposing improvements or solutions are essential skills for Advancement Services. Professionals should be able to assess the potential impact of clauses, addendums, and even minute details..


Organizational skills:

Advancements Services professionals and teams handle hundreds – if not thousands – of donor records and gift agreements simultaneously. Being well-organized is critical to ensure that deadlines are met, and documents are properly recorded and accessible.


Technology proficiency: 

In the digital age, Advancements Services should be comfortable with CRM software, Excel and other spreadsheet tools, document management systems, as well as additional tools entering the field that streamline and automate manual, cumbersome processes. 


Risk management:

Recognizing and mitigating risks within pledges and gift agreements is crucial. In partnership with organizational Finance teams, Advancement Services should be skilled in assessing the potential risks when developing and enhancing standard operating procedures. 


Stakeholder management: 

Building and maintaining relationships with internal and external stakeholders is important. Advancement Services needs to collaborate and manage expectations effectively.


Ethical conduct:

Maintaining high ethical standards is essential in fundraising, as databases and gift agreements often involve sensitive and confidential information. 


Evolution: The Digital-First VP of Advancement Services

The responsibilities of Advancement Services have traditionally been focused on executing processes: drafting gift agreements, refining standard operating procedures, maintaining donor records and filing systems, and so on. For a job that requires extensive expertise and attention to detail, tasks like chasing down signatures and digging through file storage for old forms ends up being a lot of low value work done by a high value professional.


But there is good news for modern Advancement Services teams: nearly all that busy work can be digitized and automated.

  • Digital gift agreements enable real time collaboration and communication between all parties. This keeps the conversation going and often leads to agreeable results more quickly than manually editing Word documents or paper pledge forms asynchronously. 

  • Electronic signatures and agreements make the signing process easier. Instead of signing multiple copies of a physical pledge form, electronic signatures mean each line only needs to be signed once. Agreements are automatically routed to the next signer, with visibility into who needs to sign next and status.

  • Digital storage and intelligent search mean there is no concern about where a document is or how to find it. Since the documents are all digitally stored, there is no need to dig through folder after folder on drive after drive to find the pledge form you’re looking for.


How Givzey Can Help Advancement Services VPs 

When the Advancement Services team is no longer focused on the mechanics of each step in the gift agreement process, they can spend more time on more strategic and higher value tasks. Gift Agreement Management solutions, like Givzey’s platform, provide a suite of tools that enable Advancement Services to remove bottlenecks that limit fundraising efforts and programming.


Givzey is the premier Gift Agreement Management platform. Click here to learn more about Givzey today.


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