At IDPE, we define development as “professional fundraising and engagement in schools”. It is about more than just income generation, it is the process by which schools seek to engage with their alumni, parents, staff, pupils and other stakeholders to generate support to advance a school’s vision.
Asking for money can be challenging — but it is far more challenging if there is no existing relationship with a school. Taking the time to get to know your community through engagement activities such as asking them to participate in your careers programme or inviting them to social activities such as reunions or sports matches, not only nurtures their relationship with the school, but also develops your understanding of your community, of their interests and of their potential motivations for giving.
All schools can fundraise…
One of the key findings from our most recent benchmarking report, is that all schools can achieve fundraising success. In our last survey period, on average schools raised £535,000. However, the longer the development programme has been established, the greater the yield — the yield reaches its highest level in offices that have been established for more than 20 years.
It takes sustained investment…
Creating meaningful relationships with donors is necessary for fundraising success, going beyond the financial transaction, we are far more likely to increase the loyalty of donors and gain ongoing support. But developing such relationships takes time and sustained investment. In our benchmarking report, we found that whilst some schools saw a small return on investment in the early years of establishing a development programme, the greatest growth was seen in years’ four to six, where on average, the return on investment was 4.3 to 1. Sustained investment over time produces fundraising success.
And school leaders are critical to fundraising success
Finally, the benchmarking report also demonstrated the critical role of school leaders to fundraising success. In schools where the head spent at least 5 per cent of their time on development activities, be that championing the case for support to stakeholders, thanking major donors, or meeting regularly with their development director, the average gifts size was three times greater than in those schools where the head spent less than 5 per cent of their time on development activities. An active and engaged leadership is integral to driving forward your school’s development programme.
IDPE’s Fundraising for School Leaders programme
With support and endorsement from GSA and HMC, IDPE has developed a highly personalised fundraising programme designed to fast-track heads (and aspiring heads) of independent schools to set up and lead effective professional fundraising programmes.
The programme is delivered by Philip Britton, headmaster at Bolton School, and Simon Jones, director of development at The Manchester Grammar School, through a series of twilight sessions starting on Tuesday 16 November 2021, supported by a one-to-one consultation and a leadership workbook, enabling school leaders to apply their learning to the context of their school’s own development journey.
Places are limited to enable personalised discussions and relevant content. To find out more, contact Louise Bennett, CEO, IDPE or register for our introductory webinar on Tuesday 2 November, 2-3pm to find out more.