By Tim Gwiazdowski
This article first appeared in Greater Mission’s September newsletter.
Back to school is a great time to communicate with current families and alumni. You should think about each individual audience and tailor specific messaging to each group. For your current families, you should share information on the upcoming school year specifically the calendar of events throughout the year. At the same time, think about how you can communicate community events with your alumni, whether it is sporting events, homecoming, theater performances, band recitals, etc.
Building alumni engagement is a great way to build a strong sense of community across the generations and shows incoming families that this is a school that values their students even after they graduate and more importantly that former students want to be involved with the school because they had a great experience.
From a development standpoint, back to school is a great opportunity to steward your donors. Let donors know what has taken place over the summer months whether it is a general update about the school itself or updating donors on specific projects that they have funded in the previous year.
Each year there continues to be a growing need for financial aid and scholarships. Take a moment to share news about how many dollars were raised and how many students/families were impacted by those dollars. Including a brief written story from a student or family talking about how they benefitted from a scholarship is always an impactful message for donors. Schools can tell this story both in their newsletter or via social media. If your school has the capability to make a short video this is another great way for students to tell their story and more importantly thank donors for their continued generosity.
Take time at the beginning of the year to reengage your school board as well. Think about the messaging you want to share with them especially as it relates to fundraising. Your board should be one of the primary resources for making new connections within the local business community and introducing new donors to the school. Articulate your plan for annual giving, major gifts, and alumni/parent engagement. It is important that you share with your school board how they can actively support each portion of your development plan.
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