Q&A with Jim Broschart, VP for Advancement
By Katie Ellis
Vice President for Advancement Jim Broschart, MBA '92, came on board July 1, and hit the ground running with plans to expand the division's reach and, therefore, the support it provides to Binghamton University. He sat down with our Communications and Marketing staff to talk about his new role and his plans for the Division of Advancement.
You were the youngest of three growing up. What was that like?
I grew up in Elmira, and I was the youngest by seven years. My idols and mentors are my older brother and sister because of the good head start they gave me. As the youngest, I've received a lot of attention and a lot of counsel. I've always been able to watch what they do and learn from their successes and their challenges. The three of us are very close.
You live in Oneonta, so you have a bit of a commute now that you're back at your alma
mater. What does that mean for the way you start and end your day?
I'm a regimented person and tend to pack quite a bit into my days. I start quite early and try to use every minute. The commute hasn't been an issue for me, but I'll have to get back to you when the weather changes! I'll concede that the commute decreases the amount of downtime available. Given my career choice, I'm accustomed to having a little less free time than most others. I'm at a stage of life where I can do this. My wife Diane and I are the proud parents of two wonderful, independent and active teenagers who are not anxiously waiting for dad to arrive home! They're too busy!
I do find that my weekends feel more precious now, but I'm highly committed to this work. I don't view my commute as cause for a decreased level of engagement with my work and the University. I like the work. I like the challenge here. I'm all in.
You say you're regimented, yet you're in a field that, in many ways, can't be described
as structured. How do you reconcile regimentation with development initiatives?
Good question. We live in a gray, not black-and-white, world, and development work requires that we adapt constantly. Yes, my team and I work in the gray. That's what donors demand, and, for me, that's what makes it so fun and so stimulating. I do drive my family a little crazy because I'm very regimented at home and personality tests have nailed me as someone who likes a lot of structure. But strangely, I do far better and enjoy much more the relationship side versus the analytical/technical side of development. That's why we are a division of different people with diverse talents grouped together to achieve our collective goals.
How has your involvement in development evolved over time?
I don't think I really understood what I was getting into when I first started doing major gifts work, but it struck me that I was interacting with very accomplished people all the time and I could feel myself becoming a little more worldly and informed as a result. I grew to enjoy that and it drew me into the profession. I enjoy the challenge of moving people who are in a place of disconnection with the University to a place where they are compelled to provide major support. That feeling can be pretty euphoric, but it's a quiet euphoria. The donor always belongs out front, but l am able to reflect on how we helped bring it all together.
Are you finding any difference between working at a public university, versus the
private university you came from most recently?
The core work is very, very similar, and the issues pertaining to fundraising are the same. We publics have some education to do with our alumni regarding how we are funded. More broadly, the private institutions are coping with a market shift and a change in consumer values and that's why Binghamton is so perfectly positioned. The value – and even if we set the value aside – the quality of education is so high here. I think Binghamton University finds itself in the sweet spot – right where the higher education consumer is looking right now.
With regard to fundraising, value isn't the core message in fundraising. The core
question is "Why wouldn't you engage with your alma mater, given its role in your
life? You have an opportunity to create the circumstances by which a young student
can follow a similar path with your support." Value is what might have attracted our
alumni to Binghamton in the first place and is recognized intellectually, but often
the case for a major gift comes from the heart. You have to look at the individual
and determine how much of the conversation is going to be about the head and how much
is going to be about the heart.
Binghamton appears to be in a good place with its potential donors. There are few, if any, pockets of discontent in the alumni base. There seems to be a consistent level of affinity for Binghamton across the alumni base. That's very healthy and says a lot about the long-term culture of excellence here.
How has the transition been going for you, learning a new place?
I keep telling myself: "Jim, you're not going to know everyone and everything right away, you have to be patient," but I'm impatient. I'm my own worst critic. Binghamton is an easy place in which to assimilate. People here are friendly, engaging yet highly professional. The result is excellence and a welcoming demeanor no matter where I turn.
You're getting to New York City some and doing a little traveling to see prospective
donors, foundation board members and to attend alumni events so you can get to know
people. What is keeping you the busiest?
I'm trying to make smart choices about where I spend my time. I know I need to spend lot of time with the team because we have a lot of strategy to implement and we're working hard to grow and strengthen our engagement, Binghamton Fund, major gifts and stewardship programs in short order. We don't have the luxury of choosing a few key areas in which to focus. We have to do everything well.
What do you mean by growing your engagement program?
People won't see a lot of rapid change, but we do need to grow as a team. This year, we will hire between six and seven fundraising professionals to join this division thanks to the Road Map and the commitment of the Binghamton University Foundation Board. As we increase expectations, we have to have professionals in place to create and manage new relationships.
We've requested approval for a search for two major gift officers and one leadership annual giving officer and we have the resources to seek three more leadership annual giving officers this year. These are the individuals that will create one-to-one relationships with alumni, parents and friends that result in philanthropic gifts.
In the past, development offers have been assigned to particular schools. Will that
be the model moving forward?
We've had success with development officers in the schools so that won't change, but we'll develop a hybrid model going forward. We'll have two new major gift officer positions working out of the Advancement Office who will work regionally and move more potential donors to relationships with their schools or other key areas of affinity. We'll still serve the schools well because that's the smartest development strategy given the strong reputations of our academic units. This model requires effective communication between the central development office and the schools. I've seen this communication develop already. Our development officers will continue to look at the interests of individual donors and create engagement pathways on campus for those individuals.
What kind of support do your development officers have?
As you might imagine, we have a talented group who do things like research, analysis, events management, communications and stewardship. They also partner with a strong central Alumni Relations Office and a network of staff members across campus engaged in alumni engagement work. As we think about raising more resources to meet our goals, we must remember that broad, robust levels of alumni engagement form the base from which to draw this support. Our challenge is and will be providing the level of support necessary as our giving increases and the number of donors increases.
Where do you see these additional people/resources taking the development program?
Development is holistic in nature. We could have a top-notch development shop, but if the institution is not firing on all cylinders such that potential donors admire what Binghamton University is and does, it won't work.
We're in a good place here at Binghamton. We're backed by a culture, a president and the momentum right now that creates the right timing. We can look at our alumni and prospective donors and talk about our status in the rankings, the accomplishments of our students, our partnerships in the community, the incubator and the School of Pharmacy. We're doing the right things on the right fronts to create the environment for strong philanthropy.
I envision a $10 million annual program in fewer than three years from our current $6 million annual program. And we should grow well beyond that point. I know that we can professionally and successfully engage the large number of committed alumni out there.
So there is a lot going on with the division, but you're also facing a move in the spring to Old O'Connor Hall. What other areas of focus do you have?
If you look at our potential donors and their capacity to give, appropriately so, we have worked with those with the greatest capacity to give. Moving forward, we need to begin working at all levels of the donor base and engaging with all of them, not only the wealthiest and biggest donors, but also stewarding others of more modest philanthropic potential who will be the big donors of tomorrow. We need to touch all levels of donors personally.
Finally, what is it like coming back to Binghamton after earning your MBA here more
than a decade ago?
I'm really proud of my association with this institution. I'm proud not only of rankings, great students, great volunteers, smart energy research, centers of excellence, incubators and pharmacy schools, but more so of the way the people of this institution represent Binghamton University. The University community is what I really admire. This is the first employment experience in my career where I can display deep-rooted, genuine passion about the institution I represent, because I had a positive experience here. With that, there's a little more spring in my step each day. It makes the work more joyful.
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