June 5, 2014 Philip J.W. Smith & Co.

Family Matters – What My Wife Taught Me about Education in Ontario

As I mentioned in my first “Family Matters” post, I am slowly reintroducing my social media activity within the not-for-profit executive search market with this new blog series which will focus on what I’ve learned or observed from my family related to the not-for-profit and employment sector over these past nine months while I’ve been offline.

This week shall focus on the not-for-profit sector as it relates to education.

The world of education, within Ontario in particular, has become a greater focus in our home and office ever since my wife – Amber Smith – has been taking online courses towards a Bachelor of Education in Adult Education through Brock University.

As you may know from our website, Amber uses her knowledge of recruitment and employment as a part-time professor at Durham College in which she teaches in Communications department of the School of Interdisciplinary Studies and Employment Services. As one who loves the world of academia as both a teacher and a student, she tends to share her passion with anyone and everyone who will listen.

In the Fall, Amber highlighted for me an article from the Globe and Mail published on September 18, 2013, the headline reading: “Specialize or risk losing, funding Ontario tells universities and colleges”.

In this article, columnist, James Bradshaw, writes:

“Ontario’s government has taken its boldest step yet to compel universities and colleges to make hard choices about how they spend their resources, circulating a draft policy designed to stretch limited provincial dollars by narrowing some schools’ missions . . . (para. 1)

The aim is to boost schools’ quality and competitiveness, but the impetus is clearly financial. ‘With institution inflation ranging from 5 – 8 per cent annually, and operating grants increasing by 1.1 per cent on average, existing cost structures are under pressure,” the draft framework says.’” (para. 5)

No matter what the outcome of the Ontario government’s specialization plan for its colleges and universities, it seems that government funding for college and university programs will be limited, and thus, colleges and universities will need to seek their own funding for research or to maintain some of their programs.

From past experience in my years as a not-for-profit executive recruiter within Toronto, Ontario, I expect that likely a few things will happen in the education sector over the next few months and years.

  1. Fundraising in the education sector will become more competitive than it already is as everyone will be looking to donors for research or program development funding.
  2. Fundraisers and development officers who aren’t pulling their weight by achieving or exceeding the budget will be let go to make room for high-performing candidates.
  3. High-performing fundraisers currently working within a specific school will be hard to keep, as they will be tempted with offer after offer from other organizations looking to build their own exceptional development teams.

With this in mind, no matter whether you’re an educational institution or a fundraiser within the education sector, you will need a plan to both survive and thrive over the next few years.

If you’re an educational institution, consider the following:

  • How might you be pro-active in retaining your best fundraising talent? (i.e. Added benefits? Incentives? Extra days off? Paid courses?)
  • How will you approach hiring new fundraising talent in the next few months or year? (i.e. Do your own recruiting? Hire a recruitment firm?)
  • How successful is your current development team?

If you’re a fundraiser in the eduction sector, consider the following:

  • What would the right offer look like to lure you away from your current role?
  • What is the ideal organization for which you’d like to work? (You know, in case they come knocking at your door.)
  • Would you survive a purge if one came to your development team? If not, how can you be pro-active about improving and proving your worth? (i.e. Achieve a designation? Take courses? Make a bold move now?)

And if you found any of this helpful, well, you can thank my wife for that.

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