Colleges and universities are competing for a generation of students expecting the latest technology and top-grade facilities. With the changing demands of the workplace and the cost of higher education under increasing scrutiny, these schools must be smart about how they market themselves and their programs. This calls for deliberate growth strategies plus new and expanded fundraising campaigns.

As a result, institutions of higher education today need to be innovative and proactive. The best and brightest of them are doing the following:

  • Sharing technology, campuses and even faculty with other institutions.
  • Offering work-study programs aligned with a network of companies.
  • Partnering with governments and industries.

Georgia Tech’s Supply Chain and Logistics Institute and its business incubators are prime examples of how a university can serve its students, communities, corporations and the economy.

New fundraising strategies have also become crucial to feed endowments and scholarship pools, and maintain and upgrade facilities in order to compete with other colleges and universities for new students. As donor demographics change, they must target not only baby boomers, who are most likely to donate, but also millennials whose careers and incomes are rising, and members of the GenZ generation — current students and recent alumni who are active on social media and tend to have a strong sense of giving back.

As with marketing and fundraising campaigns in other sectors, alignment with a media company can greatly boost effectiveness and results.

Northeastern University Illinois, for example, turned to the Chicago Tribune to build brand awareness among prospective students as well as alumni. With a home page display, three separate 100,000 e-mail blasts, 700,000 display impressions, and print advertorials in the Tribune’s main news and suburban papers, the effort helped achieve, among other goals, the following objectives.

  • Promote Northeastern University Illinois as a credible university with a rich 150-year history.
  • Reach a broad audience of college decision-makers — students, high school counselors, parents, professionals and minority groups.
  • Drive traffic, in particular prospective applicants, to the school’s website.
  • Elevate Northeastern University Illinois’s visibility in the highly competitive Chicago marketplace.