Proposal Consultant at the University of Pretoria

Ninette Mouton is a proposal consultant at the University of Pretoria. She prepares fund-raising documents and manages the Department of Institutional Advancement’s communication platforms. Ninette has successfully secured R28 million to advance nursing scholarship at the University of Pretoria and the University of Limpopo. She secured R1,9 million in additional funding for the University of Pretoria in 2009. Ninette has also developed and presented practical training courses for individuals involved in Advancement and fundraising.

Five Questions

1. Had you always set out to work in a university setting? How did you come to work for the Advancement office?

My dream job was to work for a non-profit organisation. I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives, but I was very aware of the sector’s reputation for job security. I can remember writing in my diary that I wanted to work for a NPO, but in a university setting. At that stage I did not even know that advancement offices existed.

I applied for the prospect researcher position while I was employed at UP. I did not get that position, but because of my literary qualifications they offered me the proposal consultant position. How wonderful to write, help people and have the security of the university environment and infrastructure!

2. What would you rate as the most urgent challenges facing Advancement practitioners at higher education institutions?

The perception that advancement is a mere administrative function is definitely a hurdle for practitioners at tertiary institutions. There has always been a professional distance between academic and administrative staff. Due to the nature of our business, universities place a higher premium on academic personnel, which further fuels the perception that anyone, even an academic, can raise funds professionally. The reality, however, is that academics are not advancement practitioners even if they are passionate about their initiatives.

3. In your Advancement work, what sources of information are you constantly referring to or recommending?

As a proposal consultant I rely heavily on the information provided by the prospect researcher because every funding application is specifically tailored according to each donor’s requirements.

4. Do you have any advice for an Advancement practitioner who is new to the field?

Training, training, training. Just like doctors and lawyers, advancement practitioners have to equip themselves. Attend workshops and seminars. I particularly benefited from Inyathelo’s cadetships and workshops. And read! There are many practical and inspirational books available on fundraising.

5. How do you maintain a work-life balance?

I believe that work-life balance lies in routine. Although it is not always possible to leave work at 17:00 (remember as a proposal consultant I am driven by deadlines!), it’s the small habits like walking my dog, cooking and connecting to God, that ground me!