Friday, August 29, 2014

CASE Europe Annual Conference, part 1

I had quite an awakening moment this week. I realized that I have finally made a career shift to a career that is truly international: working with fundraising and development in the fields of higher education, science and the arts. I could seriously see myself working in London, Edinburgh, San Francisco or New York, for example, in the future. I have to say that I am full of energy, inspiration and new ideas after having attended the four-day CASE Europe Annual Conference in Edinburgh. Ready to roll my sleeves and put these ideas into action at my workplace, the Faculty of Medicine, University of Helsinki.

Almost 1,100 Advancement Professionals from 31 Countries

CASE is a wonderful non-profit organization helping educational institutions and their advancement professionals to improve their fundraising and development, alumni relations, communications, marketing and related areas. Established originally in the US in 1974, it has expanded to other continents, as well.

This year's Annual Conference in Europe gathered together almost 1,100 advancement professionals from 31 countries. I attended also the pre-conference so had the pleasure of meeting some 50 of the participants for one day in a more intimate setting.

Edinburgh International Conference Centre created a fabulous setting for this event.

Experiences, Inspiration and Ideas

What is the greatest give-a-way from the CASE Annual Conference? I would point out two: fabulous contacts and inspiring stories and cases from other universities. I was especially fascinated by the presentation of John Glier and Peter Lasher from Grenzebach Glier and Associates. They seem to share my view that a donation is really an investment. I wrote about this already in my two theses over a year ago. Peter Lasher extended the term to "philanthropic investment". Excellent. This terminology much better describes that a donation is not just throwing money to an organization with the aim of saving it. I fact, it is investing in the organization and thus helping the organization to improve and expand. Most importantly: an investment always has (or should have) a return. This resonates with the donors and other funders, who in many cases have made their fortune in the business  world. In the case of universities, the return is a better-functioning and more competitive university, that can attract the best students, professors and researchers. Read my theses at my website here.

Secondly, I was very inspired to hear Director of Development Liesl Elder's presentation on the University of Oxford's fundraising campaign Oxford Thinking. We are far from the Oxford's £3 billion fundraising goal. Yet, it was a treat to see how strategically she addressed the key points of getting principal gifts – yes, the eight-figure gifts.

Networking Never Ends

Have to say that we fundraisers and other institutional advancement professionals are special creatures. Met so many interesting people, with many of whom I hope to continue discussions and the practice of sharing experiences.

So many new contacts. And these are only the ones who had business cards with them...

And the networking didn't end at the seminar. I even connected with the manager of a nearby Nepalese restaurant. Apparently his brother is studying in Finland, at exactly the University of Helsinki.

Here at the Edinburgh airport I'm allowing myself to put on my iTunes and be on my own, for a while. Enjoying a rare quiet moment and traveling with style. ;)

The drink is one of my favorites but never had it with fries / chips before.

I seriously did not plan to have everything red.

This blog post is a beginning of a series of posts from the CASE Europe Annual Conference. More to follow in the upcoming days.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Interview on Fundraising and Alumni Relations at Lääkärilehti

Fundraising and alumni relations raise interest in Finland. The Finnish professional magazine Lääkärilehti - targeted for medical doctors - published an article today, April 11th, in which I was interviewed, as well. This time the emphasis was on alumni relations at the different Faculties of Medicine in Finland.

Read the entire article as a PDF file here. This is unfortunately only in Finnish.

Altogether this was the fourth media interview since I started my job as Development Specialist at the University of Helsinki's Faculty of Medicine. Previously I have given interviews to Keski-Uusimaa, Mediuutiset and the MTV3 News Channel. Full of ideas and energy. So glad that the discussion is heating up in Finland on these topic areas.

Now this Development Specialist is off to a 28-kilometer (17.4-mile) run. This should give me new energy for the upcoming week.

Relaxing weekend, folks!

The photo at the Lääkärilehti article. © Sami Perttilä.

It's ok to be more relaxed in alumni relations, once a while;) © Ari Mäkelä

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Article on Fundraising in Helsingin Sanomat

Fundraising is becoming more and more important in the fields of arts and science in Finland. The topic is increasingly covered by the media.

My own article was published in the main daily Helsingin Sanomat today with the title: "Create a Competitive Edge With Fundraising". You can read the article in Finnish: Varainhankinta kannattaa valjastaa valttikortiksi.

My article is a response to journalist Vesa Sirén's article on Thursday, where he compares fundraising to begging. Access Sirén's article here in Finnish: Yhdysvalloissa taide pyörii varainker(j)uulla.

Finally we are discussing about fundraising. Those organizations that start fundraising now in Finland will be the leaders  of the future.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

New Independence Day Festivities in Finland

Finland celebrated its 96th Independence Day yesterday. This year, the festivities altered from the traditional ones, of which I wrote last year. Due to the renovation at the Presidential Palace, President Sauli Niinistö hosted the celebrations in Tampere.

A new element was introduced: a 50-minute concert, a mixture of music and texts from Finnish classics. This change added a new layer to the Independence Day. Not only could we be thankful to all the veterans and lottos, but also we could be proud of our original culture and the arts.

At least for me, no other art form touches my heart the same way as music does. No wonder I had tears in my eyes, when listening to Maria Ylipää and Waltteri Torikka performing "Myrskyluodon Maija".

In fact, when working as a fundraising professional in the field of arts, I only work for arts organizations and artists, that touch me emotionally. "Don't work for a cause you don't believe in", stated Timothy Higdon, one of my New York University professors. The same applies to my daily work at Helsinki University's Faculty of Medicine. It is important to find touching stories of how has top-notch medical research helped people. Even the new Children's Hospital in Helsinki would not survive without medical research and new, breakthrough ideas in treatment and prevention.

Santtu-Matias Rouvali, New Finnish Talent

Santtu-Matias Rouvali acted as the conductor for the orchestra. This young fellow has climbed to the international conductor scene extremely rapidly, being only 28 at the moment.

But who remembers him from the TV show "Not Born to Rock", which aired between November 2007 and January 2008? Four classical musicians were gathered together to form a rock band, and to play instruments, which were not their own instruments. 

Santtu-Matias Rouvali (left) at the TV show Not Born to Rock. The picture is from Katso magazine's website.

Collaboration Between Art Forms

The Independence Day concert was important also in other ways: it showed the power of collaboration between art forms. Not only was there music, there were texts from Finnish literature classics, performed by actors.

This kind of collaboration is highly crucial in the future. Arts organizations need to combine forces and find new ways to get the audience interested.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Interview in Finnish Media

These past weeks have been crazy busy. My job at University of Helsinki's Faculty of Medicine is extremely fascinating. Also, I have been giving a few lectures of fundraising. Both for arts organizations and Arts Management Students at the Sibelius Academy, University of the Arts Helsinki. Tomorrow, I will have another lecture for some 30 representatives from different arts organizations.

In addition to all this, there was an interview of me in Finnish media: Keski-Uusimaa and Länsiväylä. You can read it here (in Finnish).

© Ari Mäkelä

© Ari Mäkelä

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

New Website and Blog

One dream has come true. I have finally published my own website at I have also other good news: I have started blogging also in English. The title of my blog is Arts, Science & Money. It can be viewed at

In this blog, I will write about arts, science and money. Fundraising and financial aspects will be at the core. I will also write about concerts and arts exhibitions that I have visited. Not to forget events in the field of higher education and science.

I hope you will enjoy this blog and join as a follower. I hope to raise a lot of discussion so, please, feel free to share your views and comments.


Thank You to the Wizzards Creating My Website

I could not be more thankful for having my own website at I am highly thankful to the graphic designer Maaret Borg, who created the visual layout and acted as the main architect for this website. Thank you also to my husband Ari Mäkelä, who let me use his amazing New York pictures in this blog. Ari has helped in many other ways in creating this website, as well. Natalia Baer has taken my portraits - thank you!

Let us begin our journey of fundraising in the fields of arts and science. Please share this website address to anyone, you think might be interested.