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IACP Certification Requirements

Requirements/Designation IAP
Professional
IAP-S
Senior
IAP-L
Leader
Experience
Experience requirements for Senior and Leader Levels can include previous advancement experience accepted at a ratio of 2 years to 1 year
2 years advancement experience in private-independent schools 5 years advancement experience (Minimum of 2 years in private-independent schools) 10 years advancement experience (Minimum of 7 years in private-independent schools)
Letter of Recommendation
Letter of recommendation from School Head
Yes Yes Yes
Affirmation of ISM’s Guiding Principles Yes Yes Yes
Credits
40 credits
80 credits
100 credits
Through ISM 40 Minimum of 40 credits
Minimum of 50 credits
Through ISM approved providers N/A Maximum of 40 credits Maximum of 50 credits
Ways to earn credits:
  • Webinars—1 hour = 1 credit
  • One-day Workshops = 10 credits
  • Three-day Workshops = 30 credits
  • Conference = 10 credits (maximum)
  • Advancement Academy = 40 credits
  • ISM On Site Advancement Work = Determined case by case
  • CEUs—1 CEU = 5 credits (20 credits maximum)
Volunteerism
Performed outside the professional’s school
N/A 20 hours per year 20 hours per year
Portfolio
Portfolio of work/results/data required for ISM and/or peer evaluation with letter of explanation–e.g., evidence of planning with goals and results; submission of materials; development and completion of major project related to school goals
N/A Yes Yes
Reflection N/A Yes Yes
Leadership activities
You report to the School Head and participate in at least 3 of the following:
  • Involvement with strategic planning
  • Responsible for budget creation, oversight, and management
  • Mentoring of a direct report or colleague
  • Leading a conference presentation or workshop
  • Publication of articles
  • Supervising at least two direct reports
N/A N/A Yes
Interview
Carried out by an ISM professional
N/A N/A Yes

Contact Us

If you have any questions, please email IACPregistrar@isminc.com or call Marie Kelly, Manager of International Advancement Certification Program (IACP), at 302-656-4944x152.

Experience

Professional

For someone new to the profession and to private-independent schools, it is appropriate to come in at the Professional Level. To apply for certification at this level, you must have two full academic years of recognized advancement experience in a private-independent school.

Senior

You can move from the Professional Level to the Senior Level, or, if your experience qualifies you, you may begin at the Senior Level. If you have advancement experience outside private-independent schools, you may count that experience at a ratio of two years to one. In any case, you must have a total of five full academic years of recognized advancement experience in all sectors with a minimum of two in private-independent schools.

Sample combinations of advancement experiences needed to qualify for senior level

Experience in general setting Experience in Private-Independent School (2 yrs. min) Total Years
Accrued Recognized



6 years in nonprofit development

= 3 years + 2 years = 5

4 years in nonprofit development

= 2 years + 6 years = 8

2 years in nonprofit development

= 1 year + 6 years = 7

Leader

You can move directly into the Leader Level or arrive there having started at the Professional or Senior Level and worked your way through. It would be typical to move from the Senior Level to the Leader Level. The biggest difference (apart from level of contribution at the Leader Level) is the maturity of understanding of private-independent schools as represented
by experience.

If you have advancement experience outside private-independent schools, you may count that experience at a ratio of two years to one. In any case, you must have a total of 10 full academic years of recognized advancement experience in all sectors with a minimum of seven in private-independent schools.

Sample combinations of advancement experiences needed to qualify for leader level

Experience in general setting Experience in Private-Independent School (7 yrs. min) Total Years
Accrued Recognized



12 years in nonprofit development

= 6 years + 7 years = 13

7 years in nonprofit development

= 3 years + 8 years = 11

9 years in nonprofit development

= 4 years + 9 years = 13

Letter of Recommendation

The letter must include the following characteristics:

  • Printed on school letterhead
  • Dated
  • Signed by the School Head (not a deputy or with an electronic signature)
  • States that you are employed by the school
  • States the title of your position and when you were hired
  • States ways in which you are a valued member of the school community (see Leadership Activities)

Affirmation of ISM’s Guiding Principles

This document was developed by current professionals in the field, in conversation with ISM. It articulates a definition of professionalism in advancement within the private-independent school context, and reminds and guides us in our daily practice. You cannot obtain certification without affirming these principles. ISM encourages all practitioners to post these Guiding Principles in their offices where they can be clearly seen by employees of the school, as well as students, parents, and supporters. You do not need to have certification to obtain a copy of this document and can display it in your office as you fulfill the requirements for certification.

It can be downloaded from the ISM website (isminc.com/IACP) or purchased from isminc.com/bookstore.

Note that the Guiding Principles are in agreement with the Donor Bill of Rights as defined by AFP, AHP, AAFRC, CASE. This can be found on the CASE website (www.case.org) at http://tinyurl.com/455ulru. While this is clearly aimed at development personnel, many of the provisions are highly applicable to admission and marketing, and thus we recommend that all Advancement Professionals adhere to it.

Credits

For the Professional Level, you must fulfill 40 credits through ISM. Professional development opportunities such as the Advancement Academy or workshops during our Summer Institute or the School-Year are ideal.

For the Senior and Leader Levels, the 90 credits required must include a minimum of 50 credits obtained through ISM. ISM recognizes and deeply respects the contributions made
by many professional organizations regarding advancement through admission, marketing and communications, and development studies. However, to ensure that the distinctive nature of advancement in private-independent schools be ingrained into professional practice, we require that candidates are exposed to the research and study that ISM has undertaken.

A Note about ISM Approved Providers

We encourage you to attend at least one advancement conference from an ISM-approved provider such as the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), Association of Fund-Raising Professionals (AFP), National Committee on Planned Giving (NCPG), Association of Independent School Admission Professionals (AISAP), and American Marketing Association (AMA).

ISM also encourages you to be part of the greater community of professionals in your own local, state, and/or regional private-independent school associations, recognizing that exposure to diversity of opinion and expression deepens our experience and our ability to serve our schools exceptionally well.

Other conferences must be approved prior to credit being granted. General conferences that are not specific to admission, marketing communications, or development—even where these types of workshops are included in the overall array—will not be approved. Contact the registrar at IACPregistrar@isminc.com for pre-approval of conferences from other organizations.

Types of Learning Opportunities Credits Earned
Webinars (1 hour) 1 Credit
One-day Workshops 10 Credits
Three-day Workshops 30 Credits
Conference 10 Credits (maximum)
Advancement Academy 40 Credits
ISM On Site Advancement Work Determined case by case
CEUs (1 CEU) 5 credits (20 credits)

CEUs

Applicants must provide a copy of the CEU certificate to obtain credit. Each CEU is worth five credits with the maximum at 20 credits.

Portfolio

The portfolio provides evidence of professional competence and achievement. It is not work that is created for the certification process, but rather a collection of materials representing projects previously completed as part of your daily work. We ask your help in organizing it so it can be easily reviewed by the committee. Examples of a portfolio follow.

Admission Marketing And Communications Development
Enrollment management plan Marketing plan Development plan
Admission funnel statistics Evidence of constituent surveys Annual giving statistics
Print materials Print materials Print materials
Web pages Web pages Web pages
Swot analysis Swot analysis Swot analysis

Where there are issues of confidentiality, the applicant must identify and protect it. All applicants can be assured that portfolios will be reviewed by ISM Consultants and/or practicing professionals whose schools are not in their state. The applicant must include a letter that gives a full accounting of (and “boasts” about) the applicant’s achievements and accomplishments. At the same time, there should also be reflection on failures—they happen and are not a detriment to professionalism, but rather an incentive to learn and grow. Evidence of that is an enhancement of the portfolio, not a detraction from it.

Reflection

Because we believe reflection is an important part of professional growth for Senior and Leader Level applicants, you are required to submit a professional reflection.

Consider the following questions:

  • What questions have my successes and failures provoked?
  • Am I truly learning? What am I truly learning? (Truly in the sense that it has importance for me with great potential for my professional activities, as opposed to merely surface knowledge for its own sake)
  • As I reflect on my professional activities, how can I see incorporating my experiences to improve my performance?
  • What insights did I offer the School Head or my colleagues that surprised me?
  • What insights have been offered to me that have touched me and impacted my performance?
  • Am I connecting my work to my deepest motivations for what I do?


Of course, you may reflect on completely different things! The following steps may also be helpful as you reflect.
1. Describe what happened—the experience, an event, a learning, a discussion, an interaction
2. Consider its importance for you in terms of

  • Taking action (what I’m going to do)
  • Reconsidering actions taken (is this the best way to go)
  • Talking to someone else (whom else do I trust in this issue)
  • Identifying its impact on your own identity (what would this say about me)
  • Considering how you feel (what emotions do I have around this­—why, with what implications)
  • Observing trends or patterns about how you respond to issues
  • Determining what meaning you made out of your experience.

Volunteerism


As exemplary figures, Advancement Professionals are required to demonstrate their drive to give back to the greater community by participating in volunteer activities outside their schools. While the required number of documented hours is 20 per year,* this is not intended to be a benchmark number. Most Advancement Professionals will do far more than this, though circumstances can sometimes mitigate against a large number of hours served. In advancement, we recruit, train, and are thankful for large numbers of volunteers, so we should also model volunteerism. (*100 hours total)

Leadership Activities

We anticipate that the Leader Level will largely be appropriate to those Advancement Professionals who report directly to the School Head. Leadership thus pertains to exercising strategic oversight within the school, not a tactical carrying out of plans conceived and determined by others. There are larger schools where Advancement Professionals (not reporting to the School Head) have a strategic role, and applicants can seek a waiver of the reporting requirement by contacting the Registrar at IACPregistrar@isminc.com.

Leader Level applicants must demonstrate a minimum
of three leadership activities such as:
•   Involvement with strategic planning
•   Responsible for budget creation, oversight, and management
•   Mentoring of a direct report or colleague
•   Leading a conference presentation or workshop
•   Publication of articles
•   Supervising at least two direct reports

These activities must be demonstrated through clear and full documentation, and noted directly in the Head’s letter of recommendation. This documentation must be included when submitting your portfolio.

Interview

This is applicable at the Leader Level only. Once the portfolio is received, it will first be reviewed by an ISM Consultant. Then the applicant will receive a phone call from a practicing advancement Professional to discuss the portfolio and the leadership activities. The intent is to ensure that your depth of involvement is appropriate. Once you have gained your certificate, you will be placed on ISM’s list of Advancement Leaders. You may be invited to act as an ISM Adjunct Consultant through workshops, on-site consulting, and writing. The Leader Level is an exclusive group of people, it is reserved for those who are truly engaged at a high level within their schools and the independent school community.

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