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  • A Career Services Fundraising Model Built on Strong Relationships

    September 14, 2016 | By NACE Staff

    Organizational Structure
    Career services professionals meet about fundraising models.

    Spotlight for Career Services Professionals

    Most career centers have a system or model through which employers are able to give and/or contribute to support the center’s efforts. The University of Florida career resource center (CRC) is no different. But in 2011, it started shifting its fundraising focus and efforts to establishing relationships with employer and campus partners, creating value, and strengthening these bonds.

    “The relationship piece is at the core of our new fundraising model,” says Heather White, director of the CRC. “We understood the importance of fostering and building relationships, but also the investment of time, talent, and resources necessary to make this work.”

    There are 16 colleges within the University of Florida. Campus partners include development and advancement offices, the alumni association, and corporate engagement councils in individual colleges.

    “We wanted to create value and use our model to support revenue generation and expansion of our services,” says Ja’Net Glover, senior associate director for career services. “We saw our work in different ways, but still considered the core concepts of fundraising while figuring out cultivation to sustain these partnerships.”

    Perhaps the biggest shift in terms of the new fundraising model was that the CRC began viewing itself as a vendor. CRC staff identified the center’s areas of expertise—including planning career services, career fair support, and technology—and revised its employer partner and campus liaison programs to enhance the amenities it offers its partners. Internally, CRC staff took several steps before reaching out to potential partners. The CRC:

    • Recognized its resources
    • Identified prospects
    • Outlined targets
    • Adapted operations
    • Defined its timelines

    Once partners were invited and on board, the CRC assigned a staff member to support each partner and grow the relationship.

    Beyond the CRC’s expertise, partners receive various benefits depending on their level of engagement. There are different levels of partnership: bronze, silver, gold, platinum, and executive. Among other benefits, the customized executive package—the highest level—includes:

    • Two full-page recognition ads in the annual Career Guide distributed to university students and alumni,
    • Sponsorship of the semiannual Extreme Resume Makeover program,
    • An invitation to the annual Employer Retreat,
    • Recognition as an employer of the week, and
    • Waived Career Showcase registration fees for two semesters.

    White and Glover have several recommendations for career centers that are considering changing their fundraising efforts to a relationship-focused model:

    • Understand that it will take time—With relationships being at the heart of this new model, it will take time to build trust and foster meaningful partnerships. Have your core pieces in place before you get to the point of making an ask to demonstrate the value you will offer.
    • Be strategic with your partners—Evaluate your employers based on their engagement and commitment to your campus and students. For example, consider their hiring numbers, involvement on campus, job postings, career fair attendance, and participation on advisory boards.
    • Account for the investment—Be honest and understand that change has to take place in many areas of your operations. Time, talent, and resources will need to be devoted to this model on an ongoing basis to make it successful.

    The shift to the new model has yielded stronger ties between the CRC and its partners, and better fundraising results.

    “We’ve seen growth on the resource end and from the financial perspective, but we’ve also seen it from the relationship area as well,” Glover says. “On and off campus, more employers and units recognize the value in working with us.”