eBook: The Art of Advancement

The Art of Advancement

Creating a Culture of Philanthropy to Secure the Future of Your Catholic Institution


We are pleased to present you with this guide – “The Art of Advancement” – which offers ideas for
securing the future of your Catholic institution through advanced financial and fundraising strategies.

Within this guide you will find clear, concise information about:

  • Adopting stronger financial management practices
  • Creating an effective advancement function
  • Emphasizing revenue-generation activities that are designed to yield desired results
  • Building an endowment to sustain your institution over the long term

Today’s Catholic institutions – whether they are schools, hospitals, dioceses, foundations or religious
orders – are increasingly placing a priority on advancement, a practice that steps beyond such
traditional activities such as development and fund-raising. When advancement is integrated into the
culture of an “institution” it can enhance not only its financial well-being but also its reputation,
engagement with the community and visibility for its mission and how it brings value to the world.

A comprehensive advancement effort is absolutely critical to the vitality – or sometimes even the
survival – of many Catholic institutions. Most organizations have managed to sustain their missions
for many years against a range of social, cultural and financial headwinds. But the coming decades
may be even more challenging economically due to changing demographics and donation practices
among Catholics across the country.

One telling illustration of this change is the experience of a Catholic high school that has seen a
major decline in financial support from its alumni. A historical analysis found that between 1950 and
1980, about 15% of alumni donated to the school; by contrast, between 1980 and 2020, only 5% of
alumni donated. While this is just one school’s analysis, it reinforces what Catholic institutions all
recognize: that now is the time for bold leadership and concerted action to build a strong
advancement program to sustain our missions.

CIS has created this resource to help you meet this challenge with practical solutions, in keeping with the spirit of the CIS Institute with its range of eBooks, videos and webcasts. In creating this eBook we
were fortunate to have collaborated with Partners in Mission, a group with extensive experience in helping Catholic educational institutions to create, develop and strengthen their advancement
programs. This eBook provides a general overview of advancement principles; a companion eBook offers more in-depth ideas for how to optimize essential advancement programs for success.

For a copy of the full version of The Art of Advancement, please email: