Experts meet at UIC Barcelona to analyse future trends in universities’ alumni relations, communications, fundraising and marketing

Over 70 people took part in the event, organised by the renowned international association CASE. It was aimed at professionals from alumni relations, communications, fundraising and marketing teams, as well as leaders of organisations linked to education or research in Spain.

More than 70 people took part in an event at UIC Barcelona at which strategies and best practices in managing alumni relations, communications, fundraising and marketing teams were proposed with the objective of helping enhance the sustainability and reputation of higher education institutions. It was organised by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), a renowned international association encompassing over 3,000 institutions and close to 100,000 professionals. The event was particularly intended for leaders of organisations connected to higher education and research, and representatives of some international schools were in attendance too.

The first speakers of the day were Alfonso Méndiz, rector of UIC Barcelona, and Sue Cunningham, president and CEO of CASE. They both welcomed the event’s attendees and thanked them for their participation. Méndiz highlighted the international nature and global mindset of UIC Barcelona, where 30% of students are from outside Spain and 106 different nationalities coexist on two campuses. Cunningham spoke of CASE’s focus on “shaping the future of our profession, transforming education and making an impact on society” and remarked that supporting institutions in their efforts to achieve those goals is now more crucial than ever. “It is really marvellous to be able to meet here, representing 80 countries from all over the world,” she added. “We are a global family, united in our mission to support our members in the future.”

After the welcome speeches, experts from Spain and other European countries took part in a panel discussion on how to cultivate, manage and monitor institutional reputation to facilitate fundraising, marketing and recruitment, and alumni community engagement.

The title of the discussion was “The Role of Leadership in Building Institutional Reputation”, and the panel was chaired by Cunningham. The other participants were Charlie Jeffery, vice-chancellor of the University of York; Juan Pablo Garrido, UIC Barcelona’s director of corporate development; Rachel Sandison, the University of Glasgow’s deputy vice-chancellor for external engagement; and Santiago Fernández-Gubieda, chief reputation officer and executive director of the Centre for University Governance and Reputation of the University of Navarra.

In the course of the discussion, Sandison talked about striving to be not the best university in the world but the best university for the world and stressed the need to invest in reputation. Fernández-Gubieda noted that managing reputation involves improving performance through equality, research and knowledge transfer. “Nurturing intangible assets such as values and identity, listening to stakeholders and learning from context are crucial for decision-making at all levels,” he stated. Garrido identified economic sustainability as one of the challenges universities are facing and said that would mean fundraising becoming more and more important. He also mentioned the need to offer a good grant and financial support programme to guarantee equal opportunities for students.

The panel discussion was followed by breakout sessions in which attendees were presented with practical case studies designed to show them ways of developing effective strategies in their respective organisations. Additionally, they were able to analyse the specific challenges and opportunities that fundraising and alumni relations pose.

Held in UIC Barcelona’s Saló de Graus, the event also gave attendees a chance to share experiences and network with experts and professionals from across Europe. Garrido said it had been an honour for the university to host the event for CASE, an association with more than 300 European member institutions including UIC Barcelona itself. Garrido has been a member of CASE’s European advisory board since October 2023.

CASE is an international association that seeks to encourage the development of educational institutions around the world. Its services include organising seminars, conferences, and forums for reflection and training, aimed at professionals working in areas such as fundraising, communications, marketing and institutional partnerships.