Interview with advancement graduate Zwakele Nugbane

Inyathelo is holding its sixth annual course in Advancement and Resource Mobilisation from 16-21 July. We asked course graduate Zwakele Ngubane about his key learnings, and how he is applying them in his current post of Director of Advancement at the Durban University of Technology.

Zwakele Nugbane

What year did you undertake the Inyathelo course? What prior qualifications and career experience did you have?

I took part in the Advancement Course in 2017. I have a Master’s degree in Media and Communication obtained from the University of KwaZulu-Natal in 2007. In terms of experience, I started out as a junior lecturer in 2006 at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) in the Public Relations Management department. I lectured Communication Science, Public Relations and Media studies at various levels of the Diploma and the B-Tech qualifications. I then became a lecturer in 2008 and continued there until 2016. In 2017 I was requested to assume the role of Acting Director of Development and Alumni Relations. I have served in a number of committees and structures within the University such as the Employment Equity Forum, Student Disciplinary Committee, Rules Committee and the DUT Council. 

What were your key learnings on the Inyathelo course?

I got to understand what a challenging and complex field fundraising ‒ and more broadly, Advancement ‒ is, particularly when it is relatively misunderstood and is in its infancy in the South African context compared to the United States and Europe, for example. We were introduced to a number of useful concepts, principles and ideas. The following are just a few of the topics we covered: The fundraising cycle, the case for support, sustainability and reporting, strategic planning and leadership in fundraising, governance and financial sustainability, and prospect research.

In terms of key learnings, though, I think it was understanding that fundraising should be a systematic, planned and well co-ordinated exercise that involves identifying and defining programmes for fundraising, donor prospect research, donor cultivation, solicitation and stewardship.

How has that course underpinned your own personal career advancement?

The course has significantly increased my knowledge and understanding of fundraising, which has in turn given me that much more confidence to do my job.

How are you and your staff implementing the key Advancement teachings?  

We have engaged in strategic planning that incorporates knowledge and understanding from the course. For example, we have integrated the fundraising cycle into our plan and have assigned specific individuals to execute the various aspects of the cycle. So we have started doing some prospect researching and profiling potential donors according to the tools gained from the course. This was not a practice in the unit, but it is slowly becoming normalized. We also did not have a comprehensive case for a support document, but we have now developed one using the guidelines and learnings from the course. We have also started approaching new potential donors and presenting our case after having matched their case for giving with our case for support.

Have donations increased with the Advancement implementation? How is this money being invested?

It has been less than a year since my participation in the Advancement course and hence we have not had sufficient time to implement and measure the effects or impact of the implementation of the key learnings from the course scientifically. However, we can indicate that the funds raised in 2017 were significantly higher than those raised in 2016 or 2015. We have thus been able to assist significantly more students with bursaries. We have also raised significantly more funds for the Food Security Programme than we have in the past.

Any other information that you believe to be relevant.

The course was extremely helpful, particularly for someone like myself who had very little knowledge and understanding about fundraising. As a grantee of the Kresge-Inyathelo Advancement Initiative, I am appreciative of the opportunity to have attended the course.

How to apply for the 2018 course:

If you have been inspired by Zwakele’s feedback and would like to apply for the next course, the closing date for applications is 5 July 2018. The course takes place at Inyathelo’s Cape Town offices in Woodstock from 16-21July. The cost is R11,900 with full payment upfront. You need to be proficient in English, with good writing skills, and should ideally hold a bachelor’s degree or equivalent qualification.

Contact: Ms Aviwe Petsha, phone 046-603-8617, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..