Private School News
Creating and implementing campaigns to support your annual fund may be essential to your school’s strategic initiatives. What activities make the most impact? How can your team best support your overall fundraising goals?
These questions were a top priority for Patrick Carlove, Chief Advancement Officer at Prince of Peace Christian School and Early Learning Center in Carrollton, Texas.
The Problem: No Clear Strategy
Patrick's school had some success with its annual fund. However, his team lacked a cohesive strategy and he felt their efforts weren’t as effective as they could be.
“We had too many independent fundraisers spread among the school: individual classes, sports teams, and fine arts groups. It was confusing and overwhelming for our parents and supporters,” said Patrick. “Our efforts also didn’t span the entire school year and I think we missed out on some opportunities because of that. We knew we could do better but didn’t know where to start.”
The Solution: Expert Advice and a Streamlined Approach
“Our school hired ISM in Spring 2016 to assist in reviewing our fundraising program. After going through the process of strategic planning with our fabulous ISM Consultant, it became clear to me that our school needed to streamline our overall development strategy.”
As part of that review, Patrick decided to attend ISM’s Your Annual Fund From A-Z workshop at the 2016 Summer Institute to help solidify his school’s annual fund strategy. Patrick created a plan that laid out exactly what his team needed to do each month to impact the annual fund throughout the year.
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“I wasn’t expecting that depth of detail,” Patrick recounted after the workshop concluded. “I’ve been to many conferences and you always get the ‘big picture.’ But we drilled down into the action steps for the beginning, middle, and end of every month. It was both sophisticated and exciting.”
For Patrick, learning didn't stop there. He came to two workshops in 2017 and attended the Advancement Academy in 2018 and 2019. Members of his team also attended ISM workshops and the school engaged in ISM consultations.
The Results: Growing the Annual Fund From $225,000 to $1.6 Million
Patrick implemented what he learned over the years from ISM's guidance and insight.
“Our annual fund had averaged approximately $225,000 per year from 2011–2016. In 2017, with one year of ISM strategies in place, we surpassed $800,000. By 2019, we achieved $1,675,890—a 644% increase! The instruction and collaboration provided by ISM was critical to our success,” said Patrick.
What tactics did Patrick and his team use to spur such a dramatic uptick? He attributes some of his team's success to these factors.
- Consolidating their efforts. “We consolidated all giving toward a list of annual fund projects that we publicized on campus as well as in mailings from affinity group families. Our office created the main body of the letters and each family wrote an introductory paragraph. This process helped us promote the new culture of consolidated fundraising and come together as a community to accomplish common goals and celebrate success.”
- Creating leadership-level giving. “ISM taught us how to determine leadership-level giving and use it to increase current support by raising annual pledges. In addition, we used five major donor gifts, totaling $100,000, to create a matching gift program for each new leadership level.”
- Getting personal. “The digital media class on campus created a video focusing on the mission of the school as an intro to our special appeal for the annual fund at our school auction. We also had a $10,000 gift lined up to start the bidding that night. These additions gave contributing to the fund a more personal feel and pushed our audience to increase the average giving at that event from $50,000 to over $90,000.”
- Opening the lines of communication. “The final piece that created quite a buzz in our community was the first ever printers proof. We sent out a document that listed the current giving levels of all our support as of the first week of April. This allowed people to review the document for typos, check their current support level, increase giving to the level they wanted, or to make a gift if they had not yet done so.”
“Our school was able to take the materials and resources provided by ISM and begin to create and solidify a culture of giving on campus."
Congratulations to Prince of Peace Christian School!
- Summer Institute, with workshops including Capital Campaign Mastery: Design and Implement an Extraordinary Campaign, The New Development Director, and Mastering Enrollment Management.
- Advancement Academy to help align your fundraising, enrollment management, and marketing strategies.
- Fall workshops, including How to Build and Implement an Extraordinary Major Gifts Program and Mastering Enrollment Management.
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