Check out the program schedule.
Browse the Forum schedule below. Please check back for updates as we continue to finalize programming. As you plan your travel, we encourage participants to arrive in time to participate in workshops and peer group meetings on the afternoon of Sunday, January 28, 2024, and stay through Tuesday afternoon to take advantage of one of the deep-dive workshops taking place 1:15–3:15 pm on January 30.
View a sampling of concurrent session descriptions below. These will be added to the schedule as dates and times are confirmed.
Advancement and Philanthropy
In today’s data-driven world, organizations across industries are recognizing the immense potential of modern data systems and AI-driven intelligence. These technologies have the ability to identify revenue opportunities, provide cost savings, and drive actionable insights.
During this session, we will delve into futureproofing your organization by maximizing personalization and preferences to unlock the next generation of donors. Understand how this type of technology investment helps organizations attract and retain new talent.
You’ll hear a brief result-oriented introduction to cloud-based infrastructures, automation, and machine learning. Discover how these modern data systems use intelligence to adapt and scale to meet evolving business needs, and how to deal with the macroeconomic forces of tomorrow, through optimizing costs and spending.
Draw inspiration from Mark Koenig, chief innovation officer at the Oregon State University Foundation, as he highlights the achievements and lessons learned from the foundation’s journey.
Mark Hobbs, CEO, Fundmetric
Rachel Crosbie, vice president of strategy and operations, Fundmetric
With over 60 percent of presidents saying they hope to start or expand a fundraising campaign, the 2020s are shaping up to be the “decade of the campaign.” However, questions linger about the effectiveness of campaigns amid both donor and staff campaign fatigue. This session will focus on new models and innovations in campaign structure and strategy. We will investigate varied models for activating support and energizing the campus community around advancement. Specifically, we’ll discuss the question of dollar-goal impacts, the repetitive priorities that make donors and alumni lose interest in campaigns, and strategies to overcome campaign fatigue. The session will conclude with a high-level discussion about the future of the comprehensive campaign.
U.S. News & World Report eliminated alumni giving as a factor in its 2024 Best Colleges rankings. This reflects a long-standing trend within alumni relations to focus on ways institutions can most effectively support the success of students from the classroom into careers and forge mutually beneficial long-term relationships with former students. In this session, leading alumni relations professionals will explore the next generation of alumni relations and strategies to align the work of foundations and alumni associations to support student success, engage new volunteer perspectives, and foster philanthropy in recent and future alumni.
Join us for an engaging session as we delve into groundbreaking insights on gift officer performance, providing invaluable guidance for leaders seeking to make strategic decisions.
Discover how your organization can leverage the power of AI and automation to enhance fundraiser efficiency and revolutionize one-on-one development efforts. You’ll see examples being put into practice across the advancement sector and learn about potential opportunities to maximize your team’s potential and elevate relationship-based fundraising to new heights.
What are the latest trends in philanthropy for colleges and universities? What attitudes do donors to higher education bring to their philanthropy, and how can institutions discern them? How are demographic trends reflected in philanthropic activity? Drawing on new data from the 2023 Bank of America Study of Philanthropy (conducted in partnership with the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy), this session will:
- Provide insights into the motivations of affluent donors in the United States
- Illuminate affluent donors’ giving practices by generation, gender, sexual orientation, and racial/ethnic cohorts
- Suggest ways in which advancement leaders can more effectively engage and appeal to specific groups of affluent donors
William Jarvis, managing director, philanthropic executive, Bank of America
Una Osili, associate dean for research and international programs, Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy
External economic circumstances, declining enrollment, and rising costs are putting additional pressure on university budgets. Advancement leaders must make difficult choices about where to invest in order to achieve the best outcomes. However, many of those decisions are favoring short-term outcomes to the detriment of long-term donor pipeline building and future fundraising revenue.
During this session, we will discuss the important balancing act that advancement leaders must perform in order to continually feed a healthy donor pipeline. Topics will include high ROI acquisition strategies, changing dynamics in donor retention, methods for accelerating major gift pipelines, and alignment of roles and goals among your staff to drive toward common outcomes.
Greta Daniels, senior vice president, RNL
Trusteeship and Leadership
Succession planning is a critical aspect of ensuring the continued success, sustainability, and impact of institutionally related foundations. As leadership transitions become more frequent and the landscape of higher education evolves, it is essential for foundations to have a well-defined roadmap for selecting, preparing, and transitioning their key leadership positions. This session is designed to equip board members, chief executives, advancement leadership, and other stakeholders with the knowledge, tools, and strategies needed to effectively manage leadership transitions and maintain the momentum of their foundations.
Keeping Fiduciary Responsibilities and Mission Front and Center amid Influences Impacting Governing Board Independence and Leadership
In the current environment, universities, colleges, and their related foundations must satisfy a wider range of important stakeholders than ever before—stakeholders that can often be at odds with each other. Each governing board must carefully consider the needs and objectives of its specific constituencies and determine how it and the institution can best meet those needs and objectives. However, a foundation governing board must also hold fast to key principles and values to remain true to its mission and serve both the current and future best interests of the institution. This session will bring together members of the AGB Board of Directors for a discussion about the influences buffeting public higher education and recommendations for maintaining mission focus in challenging times.
Good governance entails more than simply fulfilling fiduciary responsibilities. A board’s investment in creating good governance and implementing best practice sets the stage for an engaged board, organizational excellence, and enhanced strategic alignment with the institution. This session will bring together leaders of two foundations for a discussion about the ways their boards are leveraging governance fundamentals such as updating the mission, vision, and values; reviewing the institution-foundation MOU and bylaws; and creating orientation and mentoring programs to become more impactful strategic partners to their institutions.
The partnership between the chief executive and the board chair is critical to effective board leadership and the success of the foundation. The engagement of the board professional, a third side to the triangle, can enhance the stability of the CEO-board chair relationship through transitions and elevate the impact of both board and staff leaders. This session will bring together a board professional, a CEO, and a chair for a discussion about the role of the board professional and offer ideas and recommendations to forge an effective leadership triad.
Effective alignment of the foundation board with the leaders and strategic priorities of the institution can have a transformative impact. Institution-foundation alignment also remains one of the greatest challenges for many foundations. This session will bring together CEOs and board leaders of foundations that have optimized alignment for a discussion about the specific ways they fostered a more effective partnership, the impact of enhanced alignment, and specific recommendations to make a good partnership great.
Enhancing Institutional Partnerships: Evaluation, Selection, and Oversight of OCIOs and Investment Consultants
Now more than ever, endowments and foundations are faced with the pressing need to evaluate their investment programs, outsourced chief investment officers (OCIOs), and/or investment consultant relationships to mitigate risks and maximize outcomes. As a leader and trustee, what steps can you take to ensure that your organization’s governance is well-situated and working? How can you verify that your relationships function optimally and that performance meets your needs? Additionally, how can you ensure that your policy aligns with your organization’s objectives and culture? This session will provide crucial knowledge regarding benchmarking investment programs and selecting OCIOs and investment consultants effectively. You will learn why oversight and due diligence are essential for foundations, and how to properly assess your provider relationships to ensure they align with your unique needs, paving the way for optimal performance.
Areas of focus will include:
- The importance of regular due diligence
- Strategies for evaluation, oversight, and benchmarking
- Risk mitigation tactics
- Search and RFP best practices
Learn from seasoned experts who have conducted over 90 evaluation and search projects totaling $100 billion in assets. By the end of this session, you will be equipped with the knowledge to strengthen your organization’s position through effective OCIO and investment consultant relationships.
A successful investment policy should address risk and return, liquidity needs, variance tolerance, and, most importantly, mission alignment. Unclear goals, problematic methods of determining risk tolerance, confusion regarding roles and responsibilities, and vague guidelines on evaluating success are just some of the pitfalls in investment policy development. Drawing on case studies and best practices, this session will explore the top 10 mistakes boards make in designing an investment policy and share recommendations for how boards and committees can avoid them. Attendees will leave with an understanding of what to avoid for successful investment policy design, tips and tricks for how to structure committees for success, and insight into how they can apply these insights at their own foundations.
Understanding and managing risk is a fundamental fiduciary responsibility. Climate risk and a rapidly evolving energy economy will both have enormous impacts on investments. Institution and constituent commitments to sustainability are providing an additional incentive for foundations to understand the impacts of carbon and climate on their endowments. This session will provide practical guidance on how to understand and manage climate risk and carbon exposure in your endowment and examples of ways institutions are working to incorporate such insights into risk-return calculations and investment strategy.
Public college and university endowments serve a number of important financial roles:
- Funding the operating budget that supports teaching, scholarships, research, and public service
- Supporting revenue-enhancing (advancement, investment management) and strategic initiatives
- Providing a sustainable source of non-student revenue by maintaining purchasing power and growing with the institution
This session will share insights from Cambridge Associates’ research on public institutions’ endowment portfolios, fundraising, spending policies, and administrative fees. We will explore metrics that can deepen understanding of the current and future role of the endowment. This framework is designed to support stakeholder communication and provide important context for investment policy and oversight. The session will highlight case studies that show how these data have informed endowment governance and strategic planning.
Are You Looking at the Investment Landscape through Red-, White-, and Blue-Colored Glasses? The Case for a Global Portfolio
Deglobalization has already begun to lead to a less connected world. Rising nationalism, global supply-chain disruption stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, and geopolitical tensions have caused many consumers to look for locally sourced goods and services. Investors, it seems, have been no different, increasingly questioning the benefit of investing outside of developed markets. While investors may have valid concerns about certain countries or industries within emerging markets, this does not undermine the case for holding a strategic allocation to emerging market equities. In this session, we will discuss how a global portfolio may benefit not only from risk diversification but also from investment opportunities.
Rethinking Volatility: How Strategic Asset Allocation Can Help Endowments and Foundations Thrive in Turbulent Markets
Now more than ever, developing an effective, long-term asset allocation strategy is critical for endowments and foundations. In addition to optimizing returns, a strategic approach to asset allocation can help institutions navigate periods of market volatility while remaining focused on their long-term goals.
In this wide-ranging discussion, we’ll explore the ways in which thoughtful asset allocation can impact performance, risk, liquidity, spending, and more. How can asset allocation help endowments and foundations endure periods of market stress while remaining opportunistic? How have traditional approaches to asset allocation evolved in recent years? What does an appropriate policy look like in the current environment? Is it accurate to define “tactical” asset allocation as “short-term,” as is customarily thought? Our panel of experts will seek to answer these questions while touching on a variety of related topics, including:
- Challenges and opportunities presented by periods of high volatility
- The (changing) roles of specific asset classes within a long-term allocation
- Implications for and interplay with spending rate
- The role of capital market assumptions and modeling
- The proper balance of tactical and strategic goals
- Customization of asset allocation for mission-alignment
Finance, Operations, and Risk Management
As the development and alumni relations professions continue to evolve, staff may bring very different expectations about what is “appropriate” to both the office and their engagements with constituents. An influential 2018 book encouraged people to “bring your whole self to work.” The rapid shift to remote work meant newer employees may never have learned the cultural norms of their new workplaces. Heighted political polarization can make differences of opinion or perspective feel like unbridgeable moral divides. This session will provide guidance on helping staff maintain appropriate and productive relationships with constituents, provide them with best practices for handling difficult and precarious situations (including racial and gender bias, political opposition, sexual harassment, and sexual misconduct), and otherwise bring their best selves to work.
“Who's on First, What's on Second, I Don't Know Is on Third...”: The Dizzying Landscape of NIL Collectives and Conference Realignment
Just as we were getting used to the idea of name, image, and likeness (NIL) collectives, the IRS issued guidance suggesting that NIL collectives may not qualify for the tax-exempt status the agency previously granted. At the same time, 2023 was a pinnacle year for conference realignment in college football. This session will not provide simple answers to all your questions about the ongoing changes in collegiate athletics. It will provide an overview of the current turbulent landscape and serve as a forum for discussion of the ways foundations are navigating the changes and the ways they are working to manage risk and leverage the benefits of collegiate athletics.
The Iowa State University Foundation, like many other foundations, has an ambitious strategic plan to grow fundraising over the decades ahead. To accomplish that, it is undertaking multiple transformational initiatives, leveraging a host of new operational and advancement technologies designed to maximize strategic data assets to reimagine business models and strategy. This session will look at some of the ways the foundation’s digital transformation is elevating its performance and efficiency and how it is engaging volunteer leaders to assess opportunities and ROI and manage the risks associated with rapidly evolving technologies.
Enterprise risk management (ERM) is an effective tool to identify, assess, manage, and report risks to the achievement of strategic objectives. However, implementation of an ERM program often seems like a daunting task. This session will include discussion of simple strategies to get your ERM program implemented to a degree appropriate for your organization’s complexity and available resources.
Foundations are critical to many colleges and universities, providing the fundraising and endowment management that support the mission of educating the next generation of leaders in America. Often, the school relies heavily on the support provided annually from the endowment, making the consistency of that support paramount. However, research from the NACUBO-Commonfund Study of Endowments shows that the majority of institutions are using old technology when it comes to calculating annual spending methodology and investment management fees. This session will feature a discussion of alternate approaches that may more effectively minimize the volatility and better optimize the consistency of the support flowing to the university and operations of the foundation itself.
Sunday, January 28
1:15 – 1:45 PM PT | Welcome for First-Time Attendees
1:00 – 3:30 PM PT | Roadmap to Success for Foundation Board Chairs, Vice Chairs, and Chairs-Elect
Consistently cited as one of the most valuable sessions of the Forum, this workshop addresses the special roles and responsibilities of foundation board chairs. Learn strategies for ensuring effective board leadership, forging an effective partnership with the foundation chief executive, troubleshooting common board challenges, and elevating the work of the board and committees.
(This session is intended for foundation board chairs, vice chairs, and chairs-elect.)
1:15 – 1:45 PM PT | Welcome for First-Time Attendees
2:00 – 3:30 PM PT | Roadmap to Success for New Foundation Chief Executives
CEOs who are new to the role will learn from seasoned foundation leaders about the challenges and opportunities they will encounter, questions they should be asking about the organizations they’re leading, and critical conversations they should be having with their board, institution leaders, and other constituents.
(This session is intended for foundation chief executives new to their role in the past 18 months.)
2:00 – 3:30 PM PT | Roadmap to Success for Future Foundation Executives
Prospective foundation executives will gain an understanding of the role foundation leadership team members play in supporting, engaging, and leveraging the board. Participants will learn from industry experts about the qualities boards and institutional leaders seek in candidates for CEO and other cabinet-level staff, questions they should ask about prospective foundation leadership opportunities, and best practices for successfully navigating search processes.
(This session is intended for senior foundation staff below the level of chief executive who aspire to become a foundation CEO.)
2:15 – 3:30 PM PT | Peer and Affinity Groups
3:30 – 4:00 PM PT | Break
4:00 – 4:15 PM PT | Welcome
4:15 – 5:00 PM PT | Opening Plenary: Lessons in Leadership
Military metaphors are common in descriptions of higher education today. Presidents are “embattled.” Board independence and academic freedom are “under attack.” Campuses are embroiled in “culture wars.” Escalating turnover rates among presidents and chancellors suggest that higher ed leadership has indeed gotten harder and more unforgiving. In our opening plenary session, two distinguished university presidents will draw on their prior career experience in the military to provide lessons on leadership for the boardroom, administration, campus, and community. This high-energy conversation will provide insights for board and staff leaders at a time when the stakes are high and their work matters more than ever.
5:00 – 7:00 PM PT | Opening Reception
Monday, January 29
7:15 – 8:30 AM PT | Breakfast
7:30 – 8:30 AM PT | Breakfast Peer Groups
8:45 – 9:35 AM PT | Plenary: Advancing Higher Ed as a Strategic National Asset
The Council on Higher Education as a Strategic Asset (HESA) is a coalition of national leaders hailing from higher education, government, business, and the nonprofit sector working to develop policy recommendations for ensuring that higher education institutions can deliver the workforce and educated citizenry necessary to address the United States’ most critical national priorities. During this plenary session, a panel will introduce and discuss preliminary recommendations of HESA and explore their implications for the work of foundation boards.
9:35 – 9:55 AM PT | Lightning Round
9:55 – 10:15 AM PT | Break
10:15 – 11:05 AM PT | Concurrent Sessions Block 1
11:05 – 11:25 AM PT | Break
11:25 AM – 12:15 PM PT | Concurrent Sessions Block 2
12:15 – 1:30 PM PT | Lunch
1:30 – 2:30 PM PT | Luncheon Plenary: Storytelling Master Class
Transforming Education Through Narrative and Technology
U.S. higher education has amazing stories to tell, but public confidence in higher education is at a historic low. This session will bring together two visionary university leaders with a celebrated Hollywood producer, screenwriter, and media executive for a conversation exploring the ways cinematic storytelling and emerging technologies can transform education and ways campus leaders can transform the narrative of higher ed.
Walter Parkes is a motion picture producer, writer, former studio executive and currently the Co-Founder and CEO of the location-based virtual reality company Dreamscape Immersive. Films produced or executive produced by Parkes have garnered numerous awards and have grossed over $6B worldwide, and include Gladiator, Minority Report, the Men In Black series, Free Solo, Flight, Catch Me If You Can, Awakenings, The Kite Runner, Amistad and many others. As a screenwriter, Parkes is largely acknowledged as a pioneer, along with writing partner Lawrence Lasker, in the development of the “tech-thriller” genre with WarGames, a Best Original Screenplay Oscar nominee, and Sneakers, starring Robert Redford. As the founding co-head of Dreamworks Studios, Parkes, along with partner and wife Laurie MacDonald, was responsible for the development and production of the studio’s diverse slate of films which included, for only the second time in Academy history, three consecutive Best Picture Oscar winners American Beauty, Gladiator, and A Beautiful Mind. Parkes’ current focus is on “Dreamscape Learn,” a partnership with Arizona State University aimed at redefining remote and in-person learning through the implementation of emotional narrative and mixed reality technologies. Previous experience in education incudes serving on the Yale University Council for ten years, and as its President for four. He is presently a Director of Para Los Ninos, a service organization that operates three charter schools in Downtown LA.
In conversation with:
Gretchen E. Buhlig, chief executive officer, Arizona State University Foundation
Dr. Chris Howard, executive vice president and chief operating officer, Arizona State University
2:30 – 2:50 PM PT | Break
2:50 – 3:40 PM PT | Concurrent Sessions Block 3
4:00 – 5:15 PM PT | Plenary: Economic Outlook-Endowments
The Global Economic Outlook: Insights and Implications for Endowment Management
While many have hopes for a soft landing, issues such as lingering inflation, continued tight monetary policy, and slower growth in China and elsewhere could still create challenges for investment committees in the year ahead. A volatile geopolitical landscape and a concentrated market focused on artificial intelligence will further complicate investment decisions. On campus, demographic and enrollment headwinds, changes in admissions practices, constrained budgets, and increased costs could put pressure on foundations to increase endowment spending at a time when donors may be hesitant to make major commitments. In this session, three leading investment strategists will share their perspectives on the global economy, then come together for a facilitated discussion and Q&A on the implications for boards and investment committees.
5:15 – 7:00 PM PT | Cocktail Reception
Tuesday, January 30
7:45 – 9:00 AM PT | Breakfast
8:45 – 9:50 AM PT | Plenary: The Business of Higher Ed—Jeffery Selingo
Predictions for the Future of Public Higher Ed
College and university foundations play a long game, cultivating relationships with young alumni with the hope of growing future decades of major donors and raising and managing endowment with an eye toward perpetuity. The landscape of public higher education, however, is changing at a rapid pace. Institutional business models, workforce needs, student demographics and expectations, and donor interests are evolving. At the same time, policymakers and the general public are questioning values and principles long held sacred by campus leaders. Jeffrey Selingo, journalist and best-selling author on leadership, higher education, and the future of work, will share his perspective on the factors driving change today, predictions for ways that public higher education will evolve, and questions that foundation boards should be asking as they develop strategies to sustain and advance their institutions in the decades ahead.
Sponsored by AT&T, an AGB Mission Partner
9:50 – 10:10 AM PT | Break
10:10 – 11:00 AM PT | Concurrent Sessions Block 4
11:00 – 11:20 AM PT | Break
11:20 AM – 12:10 PM PT | Concurrent Sessions Block 5
12:10 – 1:15 PM PT | Lunch for workshop registrants
1:15 – 3:15 PM PT | Workshops
A diverse, engaged foundation board can be a force multiplier for a foundation, leveraging needed perspectives, experience, expertise, and relationships to advance the foundation’s mission. The wrong board can be an impediment. This workshop will provide an overview of the governance practices needed to engineer an engaged board aligned with an eye toward advancing the strategic priorities of the foundation and the institution. The session will provide guidance on developing a board composition matrix, ensuring board diversity, building a pipeline of board candidates, developing board orientation and education, and maintaining board engagement—in short, engaging the right people and providing them with the tools to lead and succeed.
“Strategic planning” may conjure images of a months-long process resulting in a massive plan full of tactics and goals that may or may not serve as a valuable guide for the work of board and staff leaders. While foundations may not need a comprehensive “strategic plan,” they definitely need a strategic compass: a roadmap to provide guidance and focus through the many twists and turns affecting higher ed today. This workshop will present streamlined approaches to developing foundation strategy and, more importantly, executing plans to enhance board governance, strengthen the performance of key foundation functions, and elevate the foundation’s ability to serve as a strategic mission partner to the institution.
This workshop is intended as a forum for staff and board leaders of sophisticated advancement programs that are embedding artificial intelligence (AI) into the day-to-day advancement activities of the foundation or institution. Facilitators will ask participants to share, then discuss, examples of how they are deploying AI to automate processes, solve long-standing problems, address emerging challenges, create efficiencies, aid in prospect identification and customization, and otherwise enhance the effectiveness and impact of advancement work.
Over the past decade, dozens of public college and university foundations and alumni associations have merged governance structures, integrated operations, or taken other steps to more closely align their work and more effectively engage and support alumni and grow alumni giving. This workshop will provide an opportunity to learn from leaders of foundations that have integrated in various ways with their alumni associations. Presenters will describe the contexts of the merger, the board and operational processes they undertook, the ways the change has impacted their boards and advancement work, and insights and recommendations for other foundations that are considering similar changes. If your foundation is considering integrating with your alumni association, this workshop will allow you to hear from leaders who have worked through the process and to pose questions to other organizations contemplating similar changes.
3:15 PM PT | Conference Adjourns
Register as a group and save.
Early bird pricing is available through September 29, 2023. Register now to reserve your spot in Los Angeles.
*Member exclusive pricing.
**Three or more, members only. All members in the group must be registered at the same time.
- Early bird deadline: September 29, 2023
- Deadline for cancellation: January 4, 2024
This program is available only to registrants who are serving a higher education institution or foundation. Please contact registrar@AGB.org with any questions.
All cancellations and requests for refunds must be submitted in writing to cancellations@AGB.org and will be processed after the meeting. Requests for refunds must be received by close of business on January 4, 2024, to receive a full refund minus a $25 cancellation fee. No refunds will be issued for registrants who cancel after January 4, 2024. If you are unable to attend, a substitute is welcome in your place at no additional charge. AGB is not responsible for cancellations due to airline disruption, inclement weather, COVID-19, or schedule changes.
Group Discounts: If a cancellation causes the group to fall below the required three registrations, the refund will be issued minus the discount benefit received by the original group.