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Jim Bender Named Chief Advancement Officer

Effective February 1, Jim Bender GS’17 becomes the new Chief Advancement Officer at Bethel University. He’s held the interim role since December.

By Suzanne McInroy, director of communications

February 05, 2019 | 4 p.m.

Jim Bender GS'17, chief advancement officer

Jim Bender GS'17, chief advancement officer

In the four years Jim Bender GS’17 has served in the alumni and family relations office at Bethel University, university leaders have recognized his talent and have continued to increase his responsibilities. Since he began as director of alumni and family relations, he’s expanded the team and its programs significantly. In August, oversight of advancement operations was added to his role, and he became an associate vice president. In December, his supervisor took another position and Bender was named interim chief advancement officer, adding development, planned giving, and the Bethel Foundation to the offices he oversees. 

As of February 1, the Board of Trustees decided to make the promotion permanent, naming him Bethel’s new chief advancement officer. “I am grateful for Jim’s willingness to take on this role and look forward to the wisdom, drive, and energy he brings,” says President Jay Barnes. 

"I am more encouraged than I have been in 10 years for Bethel's ability to raise money in a positive way,” says one trustee. “I am convinced that Jim is high-caliber talent who Bethel is blessed to have in-house and who is ready to take on this mission-critical role."

“I think Bethel has a unique calling and vision in the marketplace and the world. My job is to come alongside people and ask them to search their hearts to see if God is calling them to join us.”

— Jim Bender GS’17, chief advancement officer

Bender’s career path to fundraising and alumni engagement is not typical. In the 1990s, Bender worked as a lieutenant with the Minneapolis Police Department. He then worked in real estate and for Target as the manager of government and community partnerships. In 2010, he returned to his alma mater, the University of Northwestern-St. Paul, to serve as the director of alumni and development relations and engagement before coming to Bethel in 2014.

“To me, it’s God’s business we’re in and God decides how we’re going to serve,” Bender says. In his time serving over alumni and family relations, Bender put together a team that has been able to invigorate alumni and families to engage with Bethel. When he added advancement operations to his role, he helped Bethel’s advancement division become more data-driven and responsive to donor and alumni constituents. Now, as he leads the advancement division, Bender continues to build credibility with the Bethel community and looks forward to seeing where God leads.

“I’ve already been able to see God work as we have new donor prospects come out of the woodwork. They can only be explained as ‘God moments,’” Bender says. “I think Bethel has a unique calling and vision in the marketplace and the world. My job is to come alongside people and ask them to search their hearts to see if God is calling them to join us.”

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