Planning a Grandparents Day to Bond With These Key Supporters

Vol. 15 No. 6

advancement eletter Vol15 No6 grandparents

Many schools show their appreciation through an annual Grandparents Day—often expanded to Grandparents and Special Friends Day so all students can invite someone who is important in their lives.

This can be one of the most important —and fun—days of the year. In some instances, school leaders report, it’s so special that grandparents travel hundreds of miles to attend. Perhaps you’re considering adding this event to your school’s calendar, or updating your current Grandparents Day.

Who and When

Most schools hold the event in the fall, often before the Thanksgiving break. Spring is another popular alternative. Involvement and schedules vary. Some schools include all three divisions, others just through lower or middle school. Some make Grandparents Day one big event, while others stagger starting and ending times based on the division.

Setting Up the Program

The basic components of a Grandparents and Special Friends Day are:

  • refreshments (from coffee, pastry, and fruit to lunch with the student who invited them);
  • a short welcome by no more than two staff or volunteer leaders (the School Head, the Board President, a fellow grandparent);
  • performances or presentations (choir, band, a short play);
  • classroom visits and/or tours; and
  • a memento (an art project made by the students, a photo from the event).

Schools add their own unique touches to the event, giving students an opportunity to share their talents and their classroom experiences. This brings grandparents and special friends into the community and allows them to see the school’s mission in action.

In the PK–grade 8 division at one school, the day starts with a prayer service. Teachers also prepare a special lesson to include the grandparents, and the visitors have a chance to share what it was like for them in school.

There’s a different agenda for each grade level (1–5) at another school. For example, fifth-graders and their guests complete a service project; second-graders give a musical performance.

At yet another school, Grandparents Day has been a tradition for 22 years. Every grade level from 1–8 presents recitations and there are musical performances. However, there are no class visits or lunch—attendance is so high that it’s just not possible!

Grandparents Day is held in March at one Christian school. The youngsters in the early childhood division sing songs and recite Bible verses for their guests, then do a simple craft with them and eat a snack. To end the visit, photos are taken of the children and their grandparents and then emailed to the grandparents. For second-graders, Grandparents Day is held in conjunction with their musical.

Dismissal time and options vary. Grandparents Day may end for everyone at the same time, as students head out for their winter break. In other schools, after the program, grandparents can say goodbye to their grandchildren in the classroom, or take them out to lunch and bring them back, or leave with them for the day.

What About the Annual Fund?

In some schools, Grandparents and Special Friends Day is seen as an opportunity to inform visitors about the annual fund and invite them to make a contribution, if they desire. However, ISM recommends that this event be focused strictly on cultivation and stewardship, not solicitation. Certainly, mention the annual fund in your welcoming remarks. Explain the many ways grandparents make a difference in the school community by sharing their time, talent, and treasure.

One risk of incorporating even a “soft” solicitation is that the event may appear to be simply another way to ask for money. You could potentially deplete, rather than enhance, your annual fund campaign. Those who give at this event may not give again—and might have made a larger donation based on a more individualized “ask.”

Collect grandparents’ email addresses at the event. Any who aren’t already in your database can be added. Then they can be part of your Development Office’s cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship efforts.

A well-orchestrated Grandparents and Special Friends Day can be an eagerly anticipated event in the life of your school. Plan one that is fun for both the students and the visitors, and that bonds these important constituents more closely with your school.

Additional ISM resources:
The Source for Advancement Vol. 10 No. 9 How Two Schools Recognize Some Key Constituents
The Source for Advancement Vol. 8 No. 1 Three Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections to Boost Your Annual Fund

Additional ISM resources for Gold Consortium members:
I&P Vol. 40 No. 6 Advancement: From Values to Results
I&P Vol. 38 No. 15How to Design Your Annual Fund as a Platform for Campaign Gifts

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