The chief advancement officer: Role identification in fundraising at public four-year institutions of higher education in the United States
State appropriations for higher education continue to decrease as the cost of higher education continues to increase. The extent to which this funding dilemma can be passed to the students via higher tuition and fees is limited. Financial support from sources outside the institution can help replace lost revenue from the state. Private fundraising is the mission of the Advancement Office, under the direction of the Chief Advancement Officer (CAO). Research exists on a president’s role in fundraising and to a lesser extent a dean’s role in the process; however, little has been written on the best role for a CAO to achieve fundraising success. The survey sample consisted of CAOs at four-year public institutions in the U.S. who were members of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). The research was based on two independent variables, CAO education and experience; and one dependent variable, fundraising success at the CAO’s institution. The survey was designed around four research questions in search of factors that determine a successful CAO. Feedback from the researcher-designed CAO Success Survey provided beneficial data from current CAOs. Factors identified as most important in the fundraising success of a CAO included involvement of the president, partnerships with the deans, positive reputation of the Advancement Office, a CAO with an advanced degree, management experience, and a supportive staff. It is the CAO’s job to implement these factors and lead the Advancement Office to success through productive fundraising efforts.