Core Technology Competencies

The idea of “Core Technology Competencies” is to identify a baseline of competencies for individual areas within the Advancement Department. Personnel at all levels should have a basic skill level to help them more effectively perform their job.

We must all recognize that there are two opposite forces at play here. First, we must recognize that the mission of Advancement is to cultivate donors, raise money, establish relationships, etc – the mission is not to use technology. On the other hand, using technology can make our jobs easier, but only if it is effective and if we learn to use it effectively.

Institutions provide certain technologies to assist with the Advancement processes. These technologies are chosen to help:

  • respond to external requests for data
  • perform our own individual tasks
  • coordinate our work with others in Advancement
  • manage the overall Advancement operations

If everyone builds to a baseline level of competencies with this technology, they can all more effectively communicate with each other and work together. Individuals who don’t bring their skills up to the baseline, can reduce the effectiveness of the entire department. Institutions welcome efforts of individuals to take their skills beyond the core competencies. This is certainly expected of staff in Advancement Services. For others in Development, Alumni/Member Relations and/or Membership roles, remember to keep an appropriate balance with their primary mission.

Advancement Services should work to develop or identify training programs to help all areas achieve these core competencies. They should also work on developing a training proficiency matrix to identify areas where staff want to build skills beyond the baseline.

Following are suggested Core Competencies for different groups of personnel:

Core Technology Competencies – Executives

  •  Implement Strategic Information Systems Plan
  • Use voice mail, e-mail, and fax
  • Use office scheduling system for personal schedule
  • Create rough draft WP documents
  • Create rough draft budget spreadsheets; review others
  • Save and retrieve files from LAN; use document naming conventions
  • Use confidential document handling and printing features
  • Log-on to institution Advancement database; look up constituents; inquire on basic donor biographic & demographic data; inquire on donor giving summary
  • Establish evaluation system which recognizes and rewards staff achievement of core competencies
  • Understand and commit to maintaining up-to-date technologies in your offices (including databases, data cleansing, social media, training, etc.)

 Core Technology Competencies – Management Staff & Development Officers

  •  Use voice mail, e-mail, and fax
  • Use office scheduling system for personal schedule
  • Format WP documents; change fonts and styles using LAN printers
  • Create presentation material drafts
  • Generate and consolidate budget and spreadsheet documents
  • Access remote data sources (e.g., via Internet) and use list serves and BBS’s
  • Execute simple ad hoc user reports against Advancement database and other databases
  • Request reports, execute pre-programmed reports
  • Perform inquiry and some maintenance functions (for assigned prospects) against database
  • Enter call reports into database; maintain personal moves and ticklers
  • Prepare gift transmittal forms using appropriate codes for major gifts
  • Assess progress of staff toward core competencies.

Core Technology Competencies – Support Staff and Administrative Assistants

  • Extensive formatting of WP documents
  • Serve as device operator for shared resources including printers, faxes, etc.
  • Use office scheduling system for personal schedule; schedule meetings for groups
  • Perform critical document backup on regular basis
  • Use document naming conventions; establish and maintain directory/folder structures; file and retrieve documents on LAN
  • Access Advancement database, perform assigned and authorized maintenance, and improve data integrity
  • Download or extract data wherever possible to avoid duplicate data entry; import downloaded data into WP documents (for mail merge), spreadsheets, or other databases
  • Use voice mail, e-mail, and fax machines
  • Request reports, execute pre-programmed reports
  • Provide first line PC hardware and software support for professional staff; be prepared to share core skills with others.

Core Technology Competencies – Researchers

  •  Use electronic sources, including CD-ROM and online services and databases, to access directories, references, and periodicals for the purpose of identifying, screening and researching prospects. Be familiar with offerings of electronic screening services.
  • Use the Internet in a targeted way for information gathering.
  • Subscribe to and properly participate in listserv electronic lists, such as Prspct-L.
  • Perform inquiry and some data maintenance on Advancement database for demographic information and prospect management; inquiry only for detailed gift history. If accessible, download development data for inclusion in profiles and reports.
  • Execute pre-programmed and simple ad-hoc reports on Advancement database. If access not available, know procedure to request reports from the Advancement database and submit data-changes.
  • Develop and maintain standard formats for different levels of profiles and reports (e.g. simple bio vs. comprehensive profile.) Assist Advancement Services in making these profiles available to Development personnel via multiple media (hard copy, on-line, other).
  • Become familiar with “data mining” technologies; use to the extent possible.
  • Back-up PC data, copy diskettes.
  • Use scheduling system for tracking research assignments and/or prospect management.
  • Use word processing.  Use voice mail, e-mail, and fax.
  • Clearly communicate capabilities and approaches to development officers. Train and supervise support staff or students in any of the above, as appropriate.

 Core Technology Competencies – Volunteers

  •  Answer telephones and forward calls
  • Look up constituent records and verify biographic data
  • Submit record change requests
  • Pre-process donations and pledges (prepare transmittals)
  • Staff events
  • Prepare and mail acknowledgment letters
  • To the extent that volunteers are assisting with fundraising, they should be maintaining contact reports just like Development Officers
  • Understanding and adhering to institutional confidentiality policies and procedures

Core Technology Competencies – Students

  •  Office Automation tasks: word processing and data maintenance support
  • Filtering on-line information including Internet searches; read and clip news groups
  • Fund source searches supervised/monitored through Research
  • Preparation of internal documentation, some training materials and hands-on desktop support as appropriate.
  • Understanding and adhering to institutional confidentiality policies and procedures

I’d welcome any comments/questions via e-mail at  And please sign up for my periodic blog posts in the space in the column on the right!

 SDG, Charlie Hunsaker
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