Lauren Laur

Vice President, Design

About Lauren

Conferences offer a tremendous opportunity for our team to immerse ourselves in the opportunities, challenges, and overall climate of the industry, as we work to identify and craft the strategic tools that will best serve our partners. And never has this objective been fulfilled so robustly as it was at this year’s CASE Strategic Talent Management conference in New Orleans, LA. The conference, which was incredibly dynamic and well-attended by brilliant experts from across North America, began with a conversation structured around the metaphor of a rose garden.

First, participants were challenged to think about our “roses”—recognizing areas our institutions were especially adept in and proud of. As you might imagine, experiences widely varied, and for each organization that was succeeding in a key area (e.g., hiring, onboarding, etc.), there were several other organizations who were eager to grow and learn from them. I was impressed with the number of organizations that have taken proactive steps to address implicit bias in their recruiting and hiring practices and shared their expertise during this discussion.

Next, we discussed the emerging “buds” in the industry or our institutions—those trending new areas that have surfaced as priorities in the last year or so. For many organizations, this conversation revolved around artificial intelligence (AI). Most institutions are still in the early stages of exploring AI and how best to use it. Because both talent managers and the talent they manage are in the relationship business and can leverage AI in many ways (e.g., communications, statistical analysis, etc.), it’s imperative that we keep a close eye on the resources that will “bloom” in this area in the years to come.

Finally, we reflected on the thorns plaguing our institutions and industry. One of the main concerns that arose here was the politicization of diveristy, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. Many institutions are concerned that the critical work of expanding inclusivity and diversity in development will be cut off by policies and laws that follow the lines of political division. Lack of resources to address abundant needs was also of concern, as was the evergreen problem of employee turnover.

Despite these thorns, I was heartened by the willingness of talent managers to share their expertise in areas where their institutions had grown “roses.” In addition to this illuminating session, attendees at the conference had the opportunity to cross-pollinate at the “ideas café” by describing their areas of success on a Post-It® Note and leaving contact information, inviting those who might be struggling to reach out for advice and mentorship.

As I reflected on this powerful metaphor and its manifold applications, I was reminded of the effort and intentionality required for roses to flourish. To thrive, these plants need full sun every day, moderate amounts of water, and nutrient-rich soil. Likewise, our institutions need certain conditions in order to realize our full philanthropic potential.

At Advancement Resources, we use the term culture for philanthropy to reflect the deliberate environment advancement leaders can curate to create a culture in which philanthropy thrives. This includes developing a unifying vision, leveraging data-driven insights, constructing thoughtful engagement—and more. Similar to a rose bush, we have developed a tree-roots metaphor to demonstrate that a culture’s strength lies in its roots. Look for our booth this conference season at AAMC in April and CASE International in July to learn more and start a conversation about opportunities to grow your culture and help your organization flourish.