How to ensure internal activity helps your programme to thrive

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.

We’re often asked if development directors should sit on the leadership team. The figures show where this is the case, these schools do tend to raise more money, with many citing that the opportunity to engage key staff and also hear about non-fundraising activities was critical to developing fundraising and engagement strategies that align with the school’s vision. That said, sitting on the leadership team might not be the right thing for every development director. Here are three tips to ensuring your internal communications are helping your programme to thrive.

Make fundraising and engagement a team sport

Inevitably, your development and alumni relations team will have metrics, targets, and goals to deliver (and if they don’t, they should). We recommend that you also set some metrics for the leadership team: helping with cultivation or stewardship meetings, attending events or supporting reunions, signing thank you letters – these are all great ways to involve other staff and build internal relationships. Have shared goals and targets for volunteering and helping with fundraising and engagement activity to embed a culture of why it makes a difference in your school.

Learn the art of storytelling

Fundraising and engagement are not just about pounds raised or nice events. It is about the impact those activities and funds have on our students, staff, and community. Be proud of what you are doing and share stories consistently and with all your constituencies. Don’t just talk about the donation – tell the story of how that money has been used to make a difference. Talk about the reunion and the nostalgia and how it made your alumni feel – share it with your students so they know what to expect when they become alumni! These stories become your greatest tools.

Invest in training

You wouldn’t expect staff to understand human resources, finance, or teaching subjects they have no experience of, so why do we expect them to be onboard with fundraising and engagement? Investing in training for leadership, governors, and staff is fundamental to embedding activity in your school. And don’t forget to invest in your team too – very few alumni and development professionals have a qualification in it, and even when they do, theory and experience are two very different things. Coaching, strategic support, and conferences can increase the activity and productivity of your team.

This article is part of a series providing our analysis and key takeaways from the 2016-2018 Graham-Pelton/IDPE Benchmarking Report. Read other articles or sign-up for our email list to have the latest news on the benchmarking report and other fundraising tips sent straight to your inbox.

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