After ten years at the helm of Development and Fundraising at Rhodes University, Qondakele Sompondo bowed out in February to take on a new challenge as the Director of Institutional Advancement at Sol Plaatje University.
Members of the Communications and Advancement Division bid farewell to the soft-spoken manager on Friday.
Sompondo started at Rhodes University in August 2011 and became one of the first Black managers at Communications and Advancement. “When I joined the University I was excited to formalise fundraising. There was an annual fund, but it was not structured,” he explained.
He has played a pivotal role in encouraging donors to increase their donations, give over a more extended period, and introduced new donors. Sompondo introduced a personal relationship management approach where he and his team members made personal visits to donors, understand them better and improve relationships. “Another approach we took to increase our donor base was linking fundraising with alumni relations by targeting alumni events which were very well attended to raise money for the university. We managed to convert our alumni into donors. We incorporated fundraising messages into all the Vice-Chancellor’s speeches. We strengthened our relationship with the United Kingdom and the United States trust. We changed their affinity events into fundraising gala dinners to generate more revenue for the University,” he added.
Another milestone Sompondo prides himself on is that the Communications and Advancement Division has seen a drastic change in its staff complement. “I am happy that the Division has attracted qualified professionals who are more than capable of carrying the Division forward,” he said. Sompondo applauded the University for its concerted effort to develop staff.
While employed at the University, Sompondo completed his Bachelor of Arts Honors degree in Corporate Communications from Nelson Mandela University, which was fully funded by Rhodes University. He also received Postgraduate certificates in resource mobilisation and advancement through Rhodes Business School, and his Masters in Business Administration (MBA) at the Business School is almost complete.
Sompondo is a qualified professional coach who took Rhodes University rugby team into the Varsity Shield. The team qualified in 2016 and has been in the league ever since. “I am proud that I managed to unlock the sporting value and put Rhodes University back in the national sporting calendar,” he said.
Ellen du Plessis has worked with Sompondo for as long as he has been at Rhodes University. “I have served with Qondakele, from the time I was on his Recruitment and Selection Committee, where he was appointed as Manager: Alumni Relations. I want to thank him for everything that he has taught me and for being light-hearted during difficult times. His positive spirit is contagious, and I am sure he will succeed in this next endeavour with the same disposition. I wish him all the best for the future.”
Luyanda Bheyile, another colleague, said: “One thing I noticed about him is that he cares deeply about the wellbeing of others. His passion for working with people and building relationships is something that we admired in the Division. He is a true fundraising specialist, and we will miss his invaluable contribution and guidance to our fundraising initiatives,” he said.
Sompondo said, “I felt that it is the right time for me to leave Rhodes University. The Division that I am leaving now is much better than the one I found. I leave with peace of mind, and I know it can only get better. The strength above and below management is huge.”
We wish Qondakele all the best on his new adventure!