For this edition of Almabase spotlights, we feature Indiana University (IU) Global’s International Advancement Initiative, which drives international student opportunities at the university and fosters meaningful engagement with global alumni.
IU Global’s International Advancement Initiative
Indiana University's International Advancement Initiative has established itself as a powerful program that drives global academic mobility, high-quality engagement with international alumni, and meaningful international fundraising practices.
A partnership between the Office of the Vice President for International Affairs, IU Foundation, and IU Alumni Association led a $20 million endowment campaign for study abroad scholarships. This campaign has enabled 400 more students to study abroad annually.
An annual fund supported by international alumni has raised over $200,000 in emergency financial aid for international students. IU's engaged international alum community is encouraged to connect with current students and faculty through IU's Global Gateway offices. By appointing experts for distinct world regions, the global gateway directors, all of whom are native speakers or proficient in local languages, IU has strongly supported communication relationship building and bolstered its to provide meaningful and locally relevant engagement for alumni.
Today, IU boasts over 40 international alumni chapters and a 75,000-strong alumni community. The university's history of global alumni involvement and culture of philanthropy have deeply contributed to the initiative's success.
In recognition of the initiative's impact in mobilizing opportunities for international students, Indiana University was honored with the 2023 IIE Heiskell Award for Models of International Education Financial Support. The prestigious award, named after Andrew Heiskell, is presented by the Institute of International Education (IIE) to initiatives that have the highest impact on the development and expansion of international education.
We had the chance to speak with Maarten Bout, who leads development efforts on behalf of the Office of the Vice President for International Affairs/IU Global, and here are some key takeaways from the discussion:
- Donor Segmentation: You can achieve impressive donor segmentation and make highly personalized appeals by knowing specifics about your alumni. IU’s innovation in donor segmentation involved coding data for 52k study abroad alumni and integrating it with their existing demographics and giving behavior. This approach enables highly personalized appeals to study abroad alumni, resulting in impressive fundraising outcomes.
- Cultural Sensitivity: It's crucial to recognize that varying cultures approach philanthropy differently, influenced by their unique cultural backgrounds and values. For Maarten, understanding high-context vs. low-context cultures and other dimensions of cultural difference described by Hofstede et al. has been crucial in his global interactions. Such insights help tailor communication and engagement methods that resonate with alumni groups.
- Making Donations Hassle-Free: Expand their range of payment options for international alumni. A recent switch to a different credit card processor enabled 60% more gift transactions to be processed from abroad without being inadvertently flagged as fraudulent. This collaboration with the IU Foundation’s gift processing and marketing and annual giving team is a real success story in lowering giving barriers. Thus, expanding the suite of payment options was the first step to encourage international alumni to give back.
- Encouraging Early Giving: Facilitating early giving behaviors among international alumni, akin to the small, effortless donations seen at supermarket checkout counters – actions that feel impactful without a substantial financial burden.
- Nuanced approach for measuring success: Different cultures view giving in varied ways, influenced by their traditions, values, and experiences. Using the same metrics as domestic strategies might not do justice to the efforts and nuances involved in international advancement. Recognizing this, Maarten emphasized the importance of setting diverse engagement standards for international alumni.
Source of Inspiration
Maarten Bout, Director of Development - International Advancement, came to IU from the Netherlands as a Fulbright scholar in 2005. Being a product of international education, he considers himself a strong advocate for IU's international engagement initiative. Today, he leads international student development efforts on behalf of the Office of the Vice President for International Affairs/IU Global.
Bout was instrumental in mobilizing international alumni engagement and driving meaningful fundraising for study-abroad initiatives. He has been a relentless advocate for making global alumni data more operational and relevant, and for involving international perspectives in all aspects of the institution.
Bout has a Master of Arts in Philanthropic Studies from the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and a Performer Diploma from the IU Jacobs School of Music.