Gratitude, engagement, innovation animate award-winning work

By News@TheU

Gratitude, engagement, innovation animate award-winning work

By News@TheU
As the University of Miami reflects on an academic year without parallel, the inventive ways it used to attract, steward, and inform alumni and donors have received fresh accolades from its peers in higher education advancement.

The Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) recently bestowed eight 2021 Circle of Excellence awards on the University, placing it eighth out of 230 North American universities that won at least one award. Including the CASE District III awards announced in January and the Silver Award for Excellence conferred on University of Miami Medicine magazine by the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC), the University’s total for the 2020-21 higher education advancement awards cycle is 19 accolades—far exceeding any previous year.

The awards recognized a wide range of fundraising, alumni and volunteer engagement, donor and grateful patient stewardship, and digital communications and marketing initiatives undertaken this past year, as well as the creative ways our teams responded to pandemic challenges. 

The University of Miami Alumni Association is collaborating with the network of ’Canes Communities to strengthen engagement with alumni and volunteers across the country. Their efforts, ’Canes Communities: Transforming Alumni Grassroots Chapters Into Campaign-Ready Communities, received gold awards in the categories of volunteer engagement and alumni relations improvement.

The University’s Black Alumni Society was recognized with a gold award in the category of alumni relations pivot and a bronze award for targeted constituency engagement for UM Black Alumni Society Celebrates Juneteenth—June 19, 2020. Instead of being canceled, like so many other events last spring, the Juneteenth commemoration was successfully reimagined as a virtual event.

Gratitude for donors inspired Sharing Our Love for Gratitude—from a Distance, the University’s multichannel donor experience initiative undertaken during Gratitude Month last November, which received a silver award for donor relations and stewardship.  And the pivot to virtual last August by the Division of Development and Alumni Relations’ annual professional development conference required that the division adapt quickly to maximize staff engagement. That effort, Advance!: Education, Inspiration & Engagement—With A Virtual Twist, received a gold award for talent management initiatives.

The Miller School of Medicine’s flagship publication, University of Miami Medicine magazine, received silver and bronze awards for photography in the category of individual photograph. The images are from two stories of grateful patients who became committed donors, A New Song for Ava-Riley and Riding High, that were featured in the magazine in 2020.

The University was also named a finalist for the national Platinum Award for best practices in digital engagement, for Pride Your Ride: Using Gamification and Lead Generation to Rebrand A Staple. This social media campaign engaged alumni in the redesign of the University’s specialty Florida license plate and resulted in the new, all-black plate now available to Florida residents through the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles. 

“Gratitude for our community, donors, and alumni has never been more central to our mission than it has in the past year, with all its challenges,” said Josh Friedman, senior vice president for development and alumni relations. “And we were able to engage with them in new, innovative, creative ways that still supported the U’s mission and spoke to their own interests and passions. These awards reflect that focus, and I couldn’t be prouder of the great work our teams and volunteers are doing.”