Developing a Spirit of Giving
Didik Wahjudi of Petra Christian University (PCU) in Indonesia was trained in mechanical engineering, so the world of fundraising was still new to him when he attended the United Board’s Strategic Planning and Resource Development workshop in February 2014. That workshop gave him an overview of fundraising practices, and it motivated him to look to other Asian colleges and universities for effective models. “Seeing how other universities are doing this is very important,” he said, now that he is director of PCU’s Grants Coordinating Unit. “We can get the spirit of fundraising from them and adjust it for the local situation.”
With the support of a United Board grant, Dr. Wahjudi and his colleague, Christine Wonoseputro, spent time with advancement staffs at The Chinese University of Hong Kong and Hong Kong Baptist University. Dr. Wahjudi and Ms. Wonoseputro were impressed with the ways in which those two universities have built strong relationships with their alumni. “Frequent communication makes alumni aware of what is taking place at the university,” Dr. Wahjudi said, and holding alumni events on campus can inspire past graduates to support current projects. He was inspired, with some of his colleagues at PCU’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, to take some initial steps to reach out to alumni. “We gathered almost 100 alumni of the mechanical engineering department and they all enjoyed the event,” he recalled, “and afterwards, they asked us ‘What can we do to help?’”
While in Hong Kong, Dr. Wahjudi also spoke with United Board Program Officer Hope Antone, and her memories of being an undergraduate student at Silliman University resonated with him. “She told me that Silliman tries to develop a spirit of giving among students from when they first enter the university,” Dr. Wahjudi said. “I shared this idea with my management, so that we can consider how to cultivate a strong love for our university and build a stronger bond with students. We may not reap a harvest in the short term but ultimately this approach can bring support to the university.”
Dr. Wahjudi offers advice to others who, like him, are newcomers to fundraising. “It’s important to have a good cause or project to offer donors,” he said, and fundraisers may want to present two or three projects, of different scales, so that donors can select a project that reflects their own philanthropic interests. It’s also extremely helpful to turn to other institutions for advice and models that can be adapted. At a more fundamental level, Dr. Wahjudi urges fundraisers to look to the community they serve. “Make students love their university and alumni love their alma mater,” he advised. That’s an approach that can unite leaders, administrators, faculty, and fundraisers in a shared mission with lasting benefits.