The result of a two-year study on alumni relations and fundraising activity in the United Kingdom, the report enables schools to compare and evaluate their performance, identify strengths and areas for development in their existing programme, and make informed decisions on how to grow their fundraising operations. Completed in partnership with IDPE.
The information in the 2019 benchmarking report contains data collected between 2016 and 2018 from more than 150 participating schools. This report provides development and alumni professionals, heads, bursars, and governors with insight into what can be achieved and what the data shows are the key ingredients for success. Regardless of your school’s history of alumni relations and fundraising, this year’s report has demonstrated that all schools can fundraise and engage their communities to deliver their missions.
To help you gain the most from the report, Graham-Pelton is publishing a series of articles highlighting our key takeaways from the benchmarking, with new articles released periodically throughout October and November. Follow us on LinkedIn or Twitter to receive future updates.
A campaign can focus your development operations, clearly demonstrate where philanthropy has an impact on your school’s future, and galvanise your supporters to give, give more, and keep on giving. If it is done right, that is.
Legacy fundraising is becoming increasingly important to schools. Legacy gifts at 92 schools generated £28.6 million, or £311,000 on average per school, representing c. 20% of total philanthropic income received at these schools. Sixty-one schools are also expecting future legacies worth an additional £23.4 million.
The latest IDPE Benchmarking Report demonstrates consistently the need to focus on major gift fundraising. When time and resources are limited, major gift fundraising can have the biggest difference to yield, ROI, and the impact the donation can have.
The world needs highly skilled, invested, and professional development staff who can focus their time effectively and are inspired to make a real impact. The IDPE Benchmarking Report clearly tells us that successful fundraising outcomes can certainly be linked back to focused and dedicated time from skilled staff.
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One message we consistently share with clients and have shared with IDPE members at recent regional meetings is the danger of ‘becoming average’. Naturally, averages are used to help interpret data. But taking the average of any data point as an aspirational target or a benchmark from which to grow misses the fundamental point that there is no such thing as an average school.
There are many subjects on which you might disagree in school life, and it appears from our conversations across the sector with clients – and also the benchmarking findings – that the founding of the development office can be added to that list.
Do any of these sounds familiar? A fundraiser that complains about data quality, uses the database differently, or not all. Reporting that cannot be trusted or takes far too long and can only be done by one person. Process documents which are pages and never get followed, if they were read in the first place. Endless Excel sheets with names and lists.
So sang Ol’ Blue Eyes in that high-kicking classic looking back on a life well lived. Hopefully, the author and everyone reading this won’t be talking about courses chartered and each and every highway for some time, but one of my niggling regrets from many years as a Development Director was to marginalise legacy fundraising, which celebrates that life well lived long after the music has subsided.
While there is certainly a wealth of valuable insights to be gained, it is important to remember that benchmarking is only one tool among many that can influence a step change in fundraising results. Here are three questions that no amount of benchmarking will ever be able to answer.
Income can vary considerably depending on how a development office allocates its time. Discipline in your time management is critical to fundraising and engagement success. By focusing just 10% more of your time on outward-facing activity, and prioritising major gifts in this time, you could see a dramatic shift in your office’s ROI.
More schools have embraced the use of a moves management system – 39% in this year’s benchmarking survey compared with 30% just two years ago. Investing in these systems and processes has made a difference. Disciplined and measurable prospect management enables leaders to quickly understand activity and encourages others to support the cultivation of your potential donors and stewardship of prospects.
When we think about the size of endowment needed to ensure the long-term sustainability of bursaries, the numbers are eye-watering. Donations used for the ‘here and now’ can genuinely change lives, so how can we use the benchmarking data and sector trends to think about expanding our bursarial offerings? Here are three things to think about.
The report demonstrated that the partnership between the development director and the head was vital, with most development directors in this survey reporting to the head and saying it enabled them to have a constant dialogue around major gift prospects, the school strategy, and opportunities to build relationships.
For those of us who have managed volunteers, we know the challenges we can face to attract, maintain, and retain them. It’s one thing to get someone to do something for a salary, but it is an entirely different experience to inspire people to do something on their own steam.
Most development offices establish programmes that actively engage their alumni. However, there are several other stakeholder groups within your wider community that are worth considering for strategic engagement.
About the benchmarking report
The IDPE and Graham-Pelton’s Schools’ Fundraising and Engagement Benchmarking Report provides schools with invaluable insight into the fundraising and alumni activities being undertaken across the UK. The report enables schools to compare and evaluate their performance, identify strengths and areas for development in their existing programme, and make informed decisions on how to enhance their fundraising performance.
The 2018 survey was open to all schools that have a fundraising and/or alumni relations function. The results of this survey will be available in October.
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