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Case study: Starting advancement at the University of Ghana

Christy Badu is a Deputy Registrar at the University of Ghana and currently the Head of its Alumni Relations Office. Having held several senior administrative positions in the university, Mrs. Badu was charged to set up the Alumni Relations Office for the University in August 2017, with a focus on building alumni affinity, fundraising and strategic communications.

How did you come to your role in advancement at the University of Ghana?

I honestly started with practically nothing. I had been working for the University of Ghana (UG) as a Senior Administrator in several capacities when I was tasked in August 2017 to establish the Alumni Relations Office, to start off the Institutional Advancement Office. To me this sounded like it would be a challenge so I accepted it.

Walk us through a typical day in the office.

For now, my typical day is not really a “typical” day in the office. Each day comes with its challenges and so I usually take each day as it unfolds. I normally have meetings in the morning with my staff to catch up on our activities, and also plan activities for the week. Later I may take a trip into town to meet with alumni or with prospective donors and then back to the office to catch up on what has been accomplished in the day.

What are your goals for the future?

Our goal is to reach out to as many UG alumni as we can. We have many alumni across the globe, so we are hoping to reach out in order to build a relationship with them and to give them opportunities to link up and also give back to their alma mater. We’re looking to expand our number of alumni contacts.

We are also collecting information we need from alumni through our online survey, to ensure we are able to segment them into viable groupings so to be able to reach out to them effectively. We are hoping our database would allow us to group them by age, career, gender, etc., for effective mobilization.

What advice do you have for someone starting from scratch in advancement?

Keep going despite the obstacles. I think that would be my advice for anyone starting from scratch. The challenges are many but once you are determined, you will achieve your objectives. So my advice is keep going!

As you meet with advancement professionals, what do you wish they knew about advancement in Ghana?

I wish they understood a bit more about the culture of Ghana, and the culture of giving and soliciting for funds. Generally we don’t have a culture of regular giving and soliciting. Some subjects could be difficult to broach e.g., bequests and other such giving. Having these conversations can indeed be quite difficult.

Some Advancement Professionals (from the developed countries) may find it difficult to appreciate the ‘giving culture’ where we come from and indeed in Africa as a whole. Regular giving to or soliciting for funds - especially for higher educational institutions - is a relatively new concept since most such institutions (Public Universities) have previously been fully funded by central government. We in Africa have a challenge! We will need to adopt strategies to assist us venture into the scope of advancement and professional fund raising. We do indeed have a rich and fertile backyard!!!

My Office is currently employing the use of social media to reach out to alumni and stakeholders globally. We have an exciting website and our social media platforms including Facebook, twitter, WhatsApp and Instagram are very vibrant currently have quite a substantial following. The surge in their usage, has contributed greatly to the dissemination of information on our activities and programmes.

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