Working With Parent Associations

Vol. 12 No. 6


In our last e-Letter, we talked about how development and admission should work together to accomplish the same goal of building and growing your private-independent school. Today, we’ll take a look at working with your Parent Association.

Your Parent Association’s mission statement should, in some form or fashion, address the fact that its goal is to support the school’s mission in whatever way requested by administrators. Occasionally, that mission will be best supported by—you guessed it—fund raisers. That’s where you, the Development Director, come into the picture.

But your involvement in the Parent Association shouldn’t come up only two or three times a year. Your relationship should be cultivated months before these money-raising events. You’ll find some suggestions below for building your relationship with the Parent Association all year round.

  • Have a member from the Development Office or the Advancement Team serve on the Parent Association as an official representative. Not only will this keep your office apprised of plans brewing in the association, but this will also give the Parent Association an opportunity to have ideas vetted by someone from the administration. This representative could also bring certain school needs to the table as discussed by the Development Office, ensuring the parent association stays on track with its mission to help the school.
  • Conversely, involve Parent Association officers at development or advancement events whenever appropriate. Some of your best advocates are dedicated parents of current students, so making them feel welcomed and included at outreach events will only serve to enhance your message’s impact.
  • Include development- and advancement-oriented items on the Parent Association’s “Volunteer Opportunities” list. This list may be shared via a weekly e-mail or monthly newsletter, but chances to volunteer are usually advertised to the community through the Parent Association. Including your events and opportunities on this list raises both awareness of your programs and a cadre of volunteers.
  • Coordinate “asks” so that the Development Office and Parent Association are not asking for donations from the same people at the same time. No one likes to feel harassed, and if both entities ask the same person for money within the same campaign, it can potentially damage an otherwise-excellent relationship. This may mean creating a common calendar to be shared by the Development Office and the Parent Association to ensure timing is never “off.”

Additional ISM resources:
ISM Monthly Update for Admission Officers Vol. 11 No. 8 Reflecting on Parent Associations
ISM Monthly Update for Development Directors Vol. 7 No. 6 The Annual Fund Chair
ISM Monthly Update for Admission Officers Vol. 10 No. 1 Crafting Your School’s Newsletter

Additional ISM resources for Gold Consortium members:
I&P Vol. 27 No. 4 Cyber News: The Transition to Paperless Parent Communication
I&P Vol. 30 No. 4 A Comprehensive Development Model

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