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Alma’s Matt vandenBerg Wins Outstanding Research Award

Dissertation that explores how small colleges manage donor relationships and influence earns international CASE recognition.

Matt vandenBergMatt vandenBerg
Matt vandenBerg, vice president for advancement and external relations at Alma College, has received the 2019 John Grenzebach Award for Outstanding Research in Philanthropy for Educational Advancement from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE).

The international award recognizes vandenBerg, who earned his Ed.D. from the University of Pennsylvania earlier this year, for his doctoral dissertation, titled, “The Symbiotic Path to Mutual Value: How Small, Private Liberal Arts Institutions Understand and Manage Donor Influence.”

The dissertation explores how private colleges manage their relationships with major donors and their influence on the institution. The study draws on interviews with college presidents and other campus leaders, providing insight into how donors shape institutional behaviors and priorities and how campus leaders manage their relationships.

The study also identifies strategies to forge mutually satisfying relationships with donors.

The annual Grenzebach Awards recognize the academically rigorous work of scholars exploring fundraising trends and yielding evidence-based insights with the potential to advance the work of CASE member professionals. Award recipients are selected by a committee of academic researchers and advancement professionals. Winning research is featured in CASE publications and conferences.

The awards are named in honor of the late John Grenzebach, founding chair of Grenzebach Giler & Association Inc., the philanthropic-management consulting firm that supports the awards. Grenzebach was a leader in educational philanthropy with a strong interest in promoting scholarship in the field of advancement.

Hired in 2015, vandenBerg manages a 17-member Advancement Office that aims to build and strengthen relationships with the college’s alumni, parents and friends. A 2002 graduate of Alma College, he earned a Master of Public Affairs degree from the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs in 2005.

Under vandenBerg’s leadership, Alma College launched in September 2019 the public phase of a $120 million comprehensive fundraising campaign — the largest campaign in Alma College’s 133-year history — to enhance the endowment, enrich key programs and modernize campus facilities.

CASE is the global association for advancement professionals in the fields of alumni relations, communications, development, marketing and advancement services.

Story published on October 15, 2019