Advancement Academy 2018

The Marquette Hotel • Minneapolis, MN




Certification Credits: 40 IACP

$4,610 Non-Member

Travel and accommodations not included

[$3,918.00 Gold Member]

Best conference I've ever attended. The small size, diversity of workshop options and access to faculty were all beyond my expectations.

Emily Brady, Director of Development
Notre Dame High School, CT
Academy Participant 2017

That's a Wrap on Advancement Academy 2018

Thank you to everyone who joined us.

We hope you enjoyed it as much as we did, and start the 2018–19 school year with closely aligned enrollment management, development, and marketing communications strategies.

See our 2018 Highlights

The highlights from the 2018 Advancement Academy are coming soon! You can also see all photos from the event on our Facebook page.

Join us in 2019

Save the date for next year so you don’t miss out! Advancement Academy 2019 will take place July 22–26, 2019, in Denver, CO. Join us at The Curtis Hotel to thoroughly examine your school's advancement strategies.

Fill out the form below to pre-register for Advancement Academy 2019. You can also sign up for ISM Announcements to hear about all of ISM's upcoming professional development events.

Highlights from the 2017 Advancement Academy

ISM’s Advancement Academy 2017 was a resounding success. Private-independent school administrators from more than 55 schools joined us in San Diego, California, to take part in an intense, professional-growth experience focused on advancement.

Attendees kicked off the week-long academy by using ISM’s assessment tools to discover their school’s strengths and weaknesses. They then worked with dedicated mentors to tailor their week to focus on what they wanted to improve and select the courses that made the most sense for them.

Whether administrators attended alone or with their teams, all were able to work together, learning from one another and creating custom action plans for immediate implementation.


Monday, July 23, 2018

11:00-1:00 Registration and Refreshments
1:00-1:45 Welcome and Keynote
2:00-4:00 Parents of Alumni: An Untapped Advancement Opportunity Keys to Building a Culturally Competent Advancement Team Data Analysis and Leadership Annual Giving: From Analysis to Success

The Head’s Role in Advancement Enrollment Management: Keeping the Students You Have Creating a Strategic Marketing Communications Plan and Calendar
The Advancement Cycle: Understanding the Interplay
4:15-5:30 Mentor Groups — Assessments and Reflection

Opening Reception—Mix and mingle with faculty, staff, and fellow attendees


Mentor Group Dinner — An opportunity for members of mentor groups to get to know each other, as well as an opportunity to meet people from around the globe.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

7:30-8:30 Breakfast
8:30-10:30 Create a Crisis Communication Plan for Your School Preparing the Reluctant Solicitor for Success Advancement for Multigenerational Parents

Find Your Story Part I: Your Annual Fund Creating Buzz: Expanding Your Word-of-Mouth Marketing Efforts Through Ambassador Programs The Development Quartet: Board President, Head of School, Development Committee Chair, and Development Director
10:30-11:00 Reflection/Refreshment
11:00-12:15 Mentor Groups
12:15-1:30 Lunch and Heads Luncheon
1:30-2:30 Marketing Communication Leadership
1:30-3:30 Keys to Building and Nurturing a Productive Volunteer Corps Creating a Framework: Strategic Planning and Strategic Financial Planning Advancement Leadership: Building Bridges

How to Capture Data to Get Bigger Gifts Using Data Effectively to Increase Inquiries



One-on-One Mentoring




Socializing, further individual / team thinking, reflection, networking

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

7:30-8:30 Breakfast
8:30-9:45 Keynote: Two Factors That Impact Everything
9:45-10:15 Reflection/Refreshment
10:15-11:45 Soft, Flat, or Declining Enrollment: Use This Framework to Find Out Why Crowdsourcing Communications Essential Data, Research, and Analysis for Comprehensive Campaigns

Stewardship: The Secret Sauce of Success ISM Growth and Evaluation Framework for Advancement Professionals Find Your Story Part II: The Framework for an Annual Appeal
The 80/20 Rule: Annual Fund Leadership
Free Time

Thursday, July 26, 2018

7:30-8:30 Breakfast
8:30-10:30 The Customer Experience is Your Brand Maximizing Results With a Small Staff Inbound Marketing: Bringing Them In!

Campaign Planning— The Elements of Success! Creating a Strategic Enrollment Plan and Calendar The Sophisticated Donor
10:30-11:00 Reflection / Refreshment
11:00-12:15 Mentor Groups
12:15-1:30 Lunch and Heads Luncheon
1:30-3:30 Creating and Building Robust Alumni Program Video Production That Everyone Can Do Creating a Strategic Development Plan and Calendar

Evaluating Your Print Marketing Materials for Prospective Families How to Start and Build a Dynamic Endowment Program
3:30-4:00 Reflection / Refreshment
4:00-5:15 One-on-One Mentoring
5:15-6:15 Networking / Reception
Evening Socializing, further individual / team thinking, reflection, networking

Friday, July 27, 2018
Please note change in breakfast and session times

7:00-8:00 Breakfast
8:00-9:30 Plan Presentation and Peer Review: A critical culminating activity that really helps encapsulate what you have learned and where you are going
9:45-10:30 Mentor Groups (Individuals Only)
10:45-11:30 Final Celebrations

Advancement Sessions

The Advancement Cycle: Understanding the Interplay


  • Identify perceptions, challenges, and opportunities among admission, development, and marketing communications
  • See and discuss donor, enrollment management, and combined advancement cycles from a theoretical perspective
  • Identify and work on specific opportunities for integration between the areas of advancement using the advancement cycle as a framework


This session will focus on new theory that combines the donor and enrollment management cycles into an integrated advancement cycle. The cycle offers an opportunity to consider the activities of both admission and development through the same lens. This conceptual framework also overlaps with marketing communications by encouraging consistent experiences for your school’s constituents. Beyond the theory, participants will discuss specific opportunities for integration and begin to identify practices in their own schools that will benefit from an integrated approach.

Advancement for Multigenerational Parents


  • Learn how to understand and connect with parents from all generations to boost giving and enrollment
  • Develop a personalized marketing strategy that engages parents of different generations in ways that resonate with them
  • Create a plan for enhancing your connection with parents


As private-independent school marketing professionals welcome the first waves of millennial parents into their multigenerational target audience, they find themselves in a marketing quandary. How do they continue to connect to the last waves of baby boomers while meeting the marketing communications needs of the newest generation of school parents?

Understand what motivates the enrollment and philanthropic decisions of baby boomers, Generation X, and millennials. Learn how to segment your approach to boost your appeal to all three generations of parents by creating a multi-layered marketing strategy. Bring your school’s generational challenges and apply your learnings to your plan going forward.

Advancement Leadership: Building Bridges


  • Be able to listen empathically
  • Understand the rules of healthy conflict so you can practice them in your school
  • Improve your ability to lead laterally, upwards, and downwards


Healthy conflict is a good indicator of strong relationships—It can mean people care about each other and their school. In this session, we will practice listening empathically and explore ways to resolve conflict through proactive conversation. Expect to be fully involved in this session, thinking about your own team and how you can apply your takeaways to your school environment.

Keys to Building and Nurturing a Productive Volunteer Corps


  • Learn how to recruit, hire, train, inspire, and steward volunteers
  • Create engaging volunteer job descriptions and evaluations
  • Devise leadership succession plans


The old adage “time is money” provides the context for this workshop. Volunteer time in 2016 was worth $24.16 per hour or $50K each year. Make no mistake—volunteers are valuable members of your school’s workforce.

Does your school reflect that value? Do you (and should you) differentiate between the way you engage your staff and your volunteers? How are volunteers integrated within your team? Would your volunteers describe their work as “vital” or “essential” to achieving your goals? Learn the answers to these questions and more, leaving with the tools to build and sustain a powerfully engaged volunteer corps.

ISM Growth and Evaluation Framework for Advancement Professionals


  • Understand how essential expectations, duties,and responsibilities can be used to hire and evaluate staff
  • Learn how ISM’s Characteristics of Professional Excellence can be used as a basis for professional growth and renewal
  • Be able to coach and mentor effectively to evaluate and lead professional growth
  • Gain the tools to create effective and accurate job descriptions that attract excellent, mission-appropriate candidates and build the capacity of your staff


By ISM’s definition, advancement refers to the strategic process by which a school advances its mission through the integration of its admission, development, and marketing communications programs. Each of the three areas has particular performance characteristics your advancement professionals need to carry out the function effectively. This workshop will identify the characteristics pertinent to each role, positioning your school to hire outstanding professionals; create a professional, growth-focused culture; coach and mentor; and support your current staff in achieving their greatest effectiveness and impact.

The Keys to Building a Culturally Competent Advancement Team


  • Learn to build your own cultural competence
  • Discover how to build culturally competent teams
  • Create activities and programs that will resonate powerfully in your marketplace


Cultural competence and fluency—the ability to understand, communicate with, and effectively interact with people across cultures— is an imperative for advancement professionals. Their primary roles are to attract with students and promote philanthropic behavior among alumni and parents.

Examine the obstacles to cultural competency in your school and on your team. How do you create teams that are culturally competent? What can you do to improve your own cultural competency? How does the unique nature of your school call for a nimble cultural understanding of the community you serve? This course will address these questions and help you develop strategies and tools to achieve success in your diverse marketplace.

Two Factors That Impact Everything (Keynote)


  • Understand the care ISM concepts: Purpose & Outcomes Statements and Price, Product, or Process. These critical concepts should be pursued by all schools because of their impact on every aspect of the student experience
  • Learning the impact of Purpose & Outcomes Statements and Price, Product, or Process on your Strategic Financial Planning to fund the student experience
  • Determining the impact of Purpose & Outcomes Statements and Price, Product, or Process on your enrollment strategy
  • Understanding the impact of Purpose & Outcomes Statements and Price, Product, or Process on your case for support for giving. This includes inspiring donors to give to various aspects of the student experience, out of respect for student outcomes.


There are two things that impact every aspect of your school’s operation. The first is Purpose & Outcomes Statements, composed of three documents—Mission, Portrait of the Graduate, and Characteristics of Professional Excellence. The second is your clarity about your primary marketplace stance as a Price, Product, or Process school.

This is work that all schools should pursue. Doing so forms the foundation of your strategic planning, becomes the lens through which you recruit new families, and underwrites your case for support for giving.

Admission Sessions

Create a Strategic Enrollment Plan and Calendar


  • Learn to identify and articulate the key elements of a strategic enrollment plan
  • Build a framework for a new strategic enrollment plan at your school


Could the stakes be any higher for admission professionals? We are charged with both attracting and retaining mission-appropriate students and families, and schools are routinely relying on tuition revenue ideally serving as the key source of hard income coverage at our schools. A well-coordinated strategic enrollment plan can provide the roadmap for this critical work. Working with or without strategic financial and marketing plans, we must be able to understand, anticipate, and articulate the opportunities and challenges that exist for our institution, in addition to our market and competition. In this workshop, we will explore trends and best practices in research, marketing/branding, financial aid and tuition discounting, and more. Participants will leave with the knowledge, skills, and confidence needed to build the framework for a new strategic enrollment plan at their school.

Creating Buzz: Expand Word-of-Mouth Marketing Through Ambassador Programs


  • Be able to articulate a concise, distinguishable, and effective word-of-mouth marketing message for your school
  • Construct a plan for identifying, recruiting, and training ambassadors at your school
  • Learn how to explain how ambassadors and word-of-mouth marketing efforts can be utilized at various stages of the recruitment and re-recruitment cycles.
  • Create a toolbox of resources and strategies that you can bring back to your school


Word-of-mouth referrals typically generate 80-90% of the admission inquiries at private-independent schools. Do you know what people are saying about your school? As advancement professionals we must ensure that this critical marketing message is accurate, compelling, and being both voiced and heard by the right people at the right time.

One of the primary and most cost-effective methods for doing so is through ambassador programs. These volunteer-based programs are relatively easy to implement and can greatly expand and enhance your school’s unique differentiators throughout various stages of the recruitment and re-recruitment cycles.

Enrollment Management: Keeping the Students You Have


  • Learn to identify the key players in re-recruitment
  • Be able to recognize and measure key factors considered by families when deciding to re-enroll
  • Discover how to recommend enhancements to programs and initiatives that support this function
  • Create a toolbox of re-recruitment strategies that you can bring back to your school


In today’s competitive educational landscape, schools must work diligently to not only attract mission-appropriate students and families, but to retain them as well. Keeping students at your school requires a re-recruitment strategy that is both customer-centric and manageable from a staffing perspective.

How do you build this type of culture and who are the key players? This workshop will enable you to evaluate your school’s current re-recruitment practices while developing new strategies that will assist you in keeping seats filled with similar faces year after year.

Evaluating Your Print Marketing Materials for Prospective Families


  • Learn the principles of effective print marketing and how to apply them
  • Understand ways to connect with both prospective parents and students
  • Leave with feedback on your own print materials


Thinking about the end user experience should be the first thought of a marketing professional. It is easy to get caught up in the process of design. But what does it mean to start with the end in mind—your prospective students and parents? In this workshop, you will engage in discussion about the principles of print marketing that connect with your target market. Then, applying these same principles, your peers will provide you with constructive feedback about your school’s print materials.

Soft, Flat, or Declining Enrollment: Use this Framework to Find Out Why


  • Learn how to use multi-year enrollment, marketing, and constituent survey data to discover what is really impacting your school’s enrollment numbers
  • Discover how an audacious focus on students and their experience goes to the very heart of your school’s value proposition—and is essential to achieving the long-term enrollment outcomes you seek


Is soft, flat, or declining enrollment keeping you up at night? Tired of speculating about what may be causing it? Learn how to pinpoint the cause with a big picture view of the factors most impacting your hard income bottom-line: your market position, your school culture, and the way you take care of your primary constituents—students and their families. In this workshop, you will walk through an analytical framework designed specifically for private-independent schools. Learn how to collect and use enrollment, marketing, and constituent survey data to accurately assess your enrollment story—and to zero in on specific strategies to drive the enrollment outcomes you seek. Bring your own constituent survey and multi-year enrollment data to use.

Using Data Effectively to Increase Inquiries


  • Identify data that is essential to the recruitment functions of admission
  • Be able to explain three key conclusions you have drawn from the interpretation of your own school’s data
  • Prepare a report based on school and market demographic data that can be used to prioritize outreach efforts to prospective students and families


Data can be a powerful tool. The admission professional can use the right data to build relationships, tell stories, understand strengths and weaknesses, predict opportunities and threats, and much more. However, many individuals struggle to identify what data they need, where they can find it, and how to interpret it once the data is found.

This workshop will highlight the key sources of data that admission professionals can utilize in efforts to expand the top of the admission funnel and increase or enhance the number, quality, and type of inquiries they receive. In order to maximize your experience at this workshop, bring or have access to your own school’s data.

Development Sessions

The 80/20 Rule: Annual Fund Leadership


  • Build a leadership giving funnel that impacts your annual and campaign giving
  • Learn to recruit volunteers and train solicitation teams
  • Understand how to manage the leadership giving process


A minimum of 80% of your annual fund will most likely come from 20% of your donors. Leadership giving is typically associated with campaigns and major gift programs. Learn how to build your leadership giving funnel to feed both your annual and campaign giving, and how to develop and train volunteers as solicitation teams. This session will focus on developing the leadership division of your annual fund, recruiting and training leadership volunteers, and managing the process.

Campaign Planning—the Elements of Success!


  • Develop a volunteer structure to support a successful campaign
  • Learn the roles of the Board, School Head, and development and communications teams during a campaign
  • Discover how to develop a campaign budget, essential policies, and the core components of the case for support
  • Understand the role of campaign consultant
  • Recognize the purpose and core components of an effective feasibility study


If you are thinking about a major fundraising campaign, this session is for you! The planning phase is the most important part of creating a successful campaign. We will discuss your Board and volunteer leadership, your own position and your staff, and committee structures. We will also show you how to assess whether or not your school is ready to undertake a campaign.

Key topics will include: administrative support structures necessary to manage a successful campaign, feasibility studies, case statements, budgets, committee structure, campaign leadership, and communication and marketing strategies to reach your goal.

Creating a Robust Alumni Program


  • Identify frameworks for defining and tracking alumni at your school
  • Learn strategies for keeping alumni connected to your school and to each other
  • Evaluate your current alumni efforts


The relationship between your school and its alumni is lifelong. Alumni are impacted by school-wide communications and there are opportunities to engage them across every facet of your school.

Whether your school is a boarding school with a large and active alumni body or a small K–6 school, a robust alumni relations program can engage your school’s graduates at every phase of their lives. Your program should be respectful, transparent, and grounded in supporting and fulfilling the mission of your school. This course will provide you with tools to identify and strengthen the lifelong relationships between your alumni and your school.

Creating a Strategic Development Plan and Calendar


  • Define and articulate the key elements of a strategic development plan
  • Learn processes for creating your school's strategic development calendar
  • Be able to think more productively about your team’s time


A well-organized development plan considers where you’ve been and creates a program for where you’re going. We will map out key efforts within a development program from July through June, discuss the differences between strategy and tactics, and help you identify areas of overload. This interactive session will allow you to walk away with a guide for creating your school's strategic development plan calendar.

Data Analysis and Leadership Annual Giving: From Analysis to Success


  • Be able to identify your leadership division of donors
  • Learn to design giving circles tied directly to your data
  • Determine strategies for implementing your data-driven plan


Bring your laptop and annual giving data in an easily accessible format (Excel preferred). In this hands-on workshop, we will help you identify your leadership division of donors and establish appropriate giving circles for your school. Working directly from your own gift list, you will understand how to segment donors for solicitation purposes and identify volunteer leadership. Leave the workshop with a dataset and volunteer structure specific to your school that will help maximize giving.

The Development Quartet: Board President, School Head, Development Chair, and Development Director


  • Understand the relationship of the leadership team to the success of development efforts
  • Be able to parse and support the roles of each member of the leadership team
  • Learn to support all team members strategically to spur success


Successful donor-centered development programs depend on many factors. A large piece is a focused and well-coordinated leadership team that both understands the values of their donors and prospects, as well as the strategic needs of the school.

The Development Quartet (consisting of the Board President, the Development Committee Chair, the School Head, and the Development Director) is the team that identifies, plans, and in many cases, executes the strategic development priorities of the school. This team is the backbone of your school’s development and fundraising efforts, providing direction, accountability, authority, and the technical know-how to successfully execute your donor-centered programs. Apply our understanding of the Development Quartet within the setting of your own school and create clear objectives and actions that will support and strengthen this team’s leadership abilities.

Essential Data, Research, and Analysis for Comprehensive Campaigns


  • Understand how a comprehensive campaign can expand your school's fundraising capacity
  • Be able to determine your development office's assets and liabilities when it comes to supporting a successful campaign
  • Sense what it takes to motivate professional and volunteer leaders to ensure success


If you find your annual fund is suffering because you are conducting a capital campaign, a comprehensive campaign may be the answer. While any size school can create a successful comprehensive campaign, doing so effectively requires a level of experience on the part of your development professionals and a laser focus on data and metrics. Using a case study as a guide, you will identify challenges, opportunities, and next steps for your own campaign readiness.

Find Your Story Part I: Your Annual Fund


  • Understand that the annual fund case for support is more than a “gap”
  • View and identify branded annual fund materials that inspire giving
  • Learn to write an appeal letter that is simple and impactful


You want your annual fund case for giving to create a connection between your donors’ interests and values and those of your school, thereby inspiring them to give. You make that connection by telling a unique story, flowing from your mission and crafted with care. This hands-on brainstorming workshop will help you begin the work of developing a compelling case for support. Then, working in pairs, you will draft an appeal letter that captures the “why” of giving for your school.

Find Your Story Part II: The Framework for an Annual Appeal


  • Identify the elements of an annual appeal campaign
  • Learn cost-effective ways to create branded letters and collateral materials
  • Review segmentation, timing, and types of appeals


Building on Part I, this workshop will address the necessary strategic elements that comprise an annual appeal campaign: the mapping of an appeal letter, the structure and content for a brochure and reply envelope, and the how and when to solicit your constituents through print and digital means.

How to Capture Data to Get Bigger Gifts


  • Understand the process for continual donor engagement and evaluation
  • Sharpen your interviewing skills to prepare for successful solicitations
  • Be able to create briefing documents that can be used with staff and key volunteers


Development programs thrive when you're able to turn the facts and figures about your constituents and their giving into actionable information. In this workshop, we will provide concrete examples of how data impacts identification, engagement, qualification, solicitation, recognition, and stewardship of prospects and donors.

With donor profiles as a guide, we will illustrate the interplay of good data and successful interviewing techniques. With these tools, participants will be ready to create briefing documents that will increase the size of major gifts and improve overall success.

How to Start and Build a Dynamic Endowment Program


  • Learn how to evaluate the role of endowment in a strategic financial plan at your school
  • Understand the necessary structure for managing your endowment
  • Leave with the tools to create a five step bequest program


In this workshop, we will examine the role endowment can play in protecting the financial security of your school's core values. If you have no endowment program or have one in its infancy, we will help you understand the dynamics of endowment fundamentals, and how to connect it to your school's core values and mission. You will develop a five-year endowment master plan for your own school, review endowment policies, and discuss how to establish and sustain an ongoing endowment fundraising program.

Maximizing Results With a Small Staff


  • Understand the challenges associated with leading an overburdened staff
  • Define priorities for your department and your staff
  • Learn to achieve balance and avoid burnout


Most development, admission, or marketing offices have five or fewer staff. How do you manage an office when you have few or even no staff members? How do you choose what to do and what not to do? Leading in an environment where there is so much to do and so few people to do it can nonetheless be a fulfilling and rewarding undertaking. Leave this workshop with a better understanding of your own challenges, the steps that you can take to define priorities, and the balance you can achieve to be effective.

Parents of Alumni: An Untapped Advancement Opportunity


  • Identify engagement strategies to support recruitment efforts
  • Gain tools to establish a loyal culture of philanthropy among your constituents
  • Be able to develop an effective family centered philanthropy program


Who are your constituents with the greatest capacity to invest in your school with time, talent, and treasure? Engaging parents of alumni is essential to successful advancement programs. These parents have the capacity to be some of your most significant marketing advocates and word of mouth conduits, but are often a greatly overlooked development resource.

This session will utilize both the enrollment and donor cycles to help you develop a program to focus on these loyal constituents. The focus will be on how to engage parents of alumni to support your admission funnel and to establish philanthropic family traditions.

Preparing the Reluctant Solicitor for Success


  • Create strategies to inspire, coach, and train volunteers and staff members to be dynamic fundraisers
  • Become more confident in your individual role as a front-line gift officer
  • Be better able to maximize the capacity of your donor base


“I will do anything but ask for money!” How many times have we heard school leaders declare their aversion to fundraising? In this interactive workshop, learn how to convert your most reluctant supporters into champion solicitors. Discover proven techniques that will improve everyone’s ability “to ask.” Whether you have a reluctant Head or staff member, Trustee, or parent volunteer, we’ll help you develop strategies to put them at ease and build their capacity.

The Sophisticated Donor


  • Understand how to demystify estate planning for your major gift prospects
  • Create strategies to help donors think creatively about their giving
  • Learn how to offer gift opportunities that are much larger than the donor might have imagined


Come to this workshop to extend your understanding of estate planning. Learn the basics of the great opportunities provided by the tax code to incentivize major giving and planned giving. Engage in several case studies showing how this knowledge can be applied. Lastly, analyze one of your donors and create your own cultivation and solicitation strategy to take back and put into action.

Stewardship: The Secret Sauce of Success


  • Discover why we need to focus on all donors
  • Learn how engagement and stewardship activities are key to your stewardship program
  • Discover how to develop and manage a systematic stewardship program at your school


When a recipe is exceptional, what's the secret ingredient, the "zing" that makes the "thing," the secret sauce? Fundraising has a secret sauce too, and it's called stewardship.

Every day your school is the recipient of gifts of time and treasure from parents, alumni, and others who are engaged in its success. Think about how you express your appreciation. Does that expression motivate these donors to invest more in your school? It is through regular and systematic stewardship that your donors recognize the impact of their generosity. We will review the systems needed to properly steward all donors, further their engagement in your school, and bring them closer to making another investment in your mission.

School Head Sessions

The Head’s Role in Advancement


  • Learn how the School Head sets the tone and direction for all aspects of advancement
  • Identify the Head’s role in the three areas of advancement, which include admission enrollment management, marketing communications, and development
  • Explore strategies for fostering an atmosphere of open, honest communication and collaboration between the three areas of advancement
  • Clarify appropriate roles and responsibilities for members of the advancement team


As School Head, you are ultimately responsible for ensuring that all three advancement functions in your school are delivered with excellence. Understanding the symbiosis that exists among admission, marketing communications, and development will assist you in your task of supervising the people in them, helping to ensure the desired level of excellence for your school is achieved. You will be in an excellent position to assist your advancement team with their professional growth and renewal. We will clarify roles and responsibilities for you and your advancement team. The level of effective school operations will be directly related to the ability of this group to function as a team. Your administrators involved with the school’s advancement efforts should work with the other members of the Leadership Team to support and advocate for the strategic items within the strategic plan/strategic financial plan. This will clarify their objectives, establish accountability for difference-makers in the life of the school, and ensure support from the Board. Your role is to support and enable them to optimize the use of resources, provide the best service to students and parents, and drive the strategic function of the school.

Creating a Framework: Strategic Planning and Strategic Financial Planning


  • Learn how ISM Stability Markers create a solid foundation for school viability over time
  • Discover how the strategic planning process should be realistic and practical, recognizing the both responsibility and revenue that undergirds the plan
  • Understand how a strategic financial plan is an essential component of any strategic planning process


The foundational component of a strong advancement program is a Board that thinks strategically. In fact, aside from hiring the School Head, strategic planning is the key component of the Board’s work.

This workshop provides an overview of the strategic planning process including a close look at the fifth iteration of ISM Stability Markers, the strategic plan and the strategic financial plan. Leave with the tools to evaluate your current plan and begin to prepare your school for a robust and effective strategic planning process.

Marketing Communications Sessions

Create a Crisis Communication Plan for Your School


  • Understand the difference between a crisis management plan and a crisis communication plan
  • Learn the five components necessary to build a crisis communication plan for your school
  • Discover how social media impacts your strategy during and after a crisis at your school


It’s not a matter of if your school will experience a crisis, it’s a matter of when. Thanks to smartphones, the internet, and social media, the news cycle is now 24-7-365. Being prepared to communicate and respond during a crisis is more critical than ever. This workshop will cover the basics of building a crisis communications plan, how to implement one at your school, and how to manage the speed of information (and misinformation) in a social media age. If your school does not have a plan in place, this workshop will give you the tools to create one. If your school has one already, this workshop is an excellent review to make sure your plan is up-to-date. This session will also give attendees the opportunity to apply what they’ve learned to actual case studies.

Creating a Strategic Marketing Communications Plan and Calendar


  • Understand what goes into a marketing plan
  • Identify your school’s marketing objectives
  • Leave with the tools for creating your own plan and calendar


Join us as we tackle the creation of a strategic and actionable marketing plan and calendar for your school. We’ll identify the main elements of a plan that make the case for incoming students and families. Learn to identify strengths and weaknesses, incorporate segmentation, assess cost and benefit, and determine priorities. You’ll leave with an understanding of how strategic, message-based, and data-driven plans deliver powerful results for admission enrollment.

Crowdsourcing Communication


  • Understand the concept of crowdsourcing communications
  • Learn how to bring authenticity to marketing collateral in a way that adds value
  • Develop a plan of action that enlarges your marketing communications bandwidth


Social media has transformed the discipline of marketing communications. Learn how “crowdsourcing” those communications in private-independent schools can add breadth, depth, and authenticity to both online and published materials, as well as produce compelling value-added messaging. We’ll show you how to crowdsource communications strategically from your target constituencies and how to develop a plan of action that enlarges your marketing communications bandwidth. There will be plenty of takeaways, and ideas can be scaled for large and small schools alike.

The Customer Experience is Your Brand


  • Understand that in today’s private school market, the customer experience is everything
  • Take a metaphorical walk through every aspect of your school
  • “Test” the experience at your school with a virtual scavenger hunt
  • Learn how to help your colleagues understand that everyone’s workplace experience is improved when you are consistently meeting families’ needs
  • Identify specific strategies to implement at your school


Your brand is the sum total of all the experiences families have at your school. Your school's families have invested both money and trust in you because they believe the experience will benefit their children. Customer service must be an intentional part of your school's culture. Ensuring a branded way of doing things that is embraced by all employees of the school begins by examining the experience your families are having today. Determine what good customer service looks like at your school. Identify obstacles that make it hard to achieve. Learn to overcome resistance by staff and faculty and earn buy-in by making it clear that everyone’s workplace experience will be improved when your culture of care with families is strong. Leave the workshop with concrete steps that you can take at your own school to develop, sustain, and strengthen your school's customer service with the intended outcome of better student retention and recruitment.

Inbound Marketing: Bringing Them In!


  • Discover the differences between inbound and outbound marketing
  • Gain ideas you can implement to improve website traffic and inquiries
  • Develop a long-term plan for a realistic, integrated approach to content-based inbound marketing


Standing out in the “virtual” crowd is becoming more and more difficult as consumers are overloaded with in-your-face marketing tactics and spam. How do you create content that not only attracts mission-appropriate families, but also converts them into qualified leads? By reviewing your own school’s digital materials during this session, you will leave with ideas that you can implement immediately to improve website traffic and inquiries. In addition, you will develop a long-term plan for a realistic, integrated approach to content-based inbound marketing.

Marketing Communication Leadership (One hour)


  • Discover what it means to be a marketing communications leader at your school
  • Learn how to work with key stakeholders, especially the School Head
  • Leave knowing what’s required of you and how you can lead upward


Admission and development have long had places in leadership in independent schools. But what about marketing communications professionals? Aren’t they school leaders, too?

Come learn how your school needs you to be the marketing communications expert—a chief architect of quality guidance and service at your institution. Understand why providing marketing communications leadership up, down, and sideways—whatever it takes—will make you a linchpin and a leader, regardless of whom you report to at your school. Plan to take home techniques for convincing your Head and others of your leadership role.

Video Production That Everyone Can Do


  • Learn a key set of basic video production skills that you can implement at your school
  • Gain increased confidence that enables you to produce influential storytelling videos


No budget? No problem! We will learn techniques that everyone can apply. With your new skills, you will use your smartphone or tablet to create your own mini-video productions. This hands-on workshop is ideal for beginners with no knowledge of video production.

Advancement Academy Faculty

One of the things that makes the ISM Advancement Academy unique is your chance to work with a seasoned private-independent advancement professional every day. You and your mentor will work to select the track(s) and workshops you will attend throughout the Academy. Together, you will develop an action plan to take back an implement at your school.

The Distinguished Advancement Academy Faculty and Mentors

Greg Abel Greg Abel, IAP-L
Director of Communications
Providence Country Day School
660 Waterman Avenue
Providence, RI 02941
401-438-5170 main
Harold Brown Harold Brown, IAP-L
Director of Development
Salisbury School
251 Canaan Road
Salisbury, CT 06068
781-314-0800 main
Barbara Beachley Barbara Beachley
Director of Advisory Services and Consultant
1316 North Union Street
Wilmington, DE 19806
(302) 656-4944 main
Michael Christopher Michael Christopher, IAP-L
Assistant Headmaster for Development
Lausanne Collegiate School
1381 West Massey Road
Memphis, TN 38120
(901) 474-1013 main
(901) 474-1045 direct
Phil higginson Phil Higginson, IAP-L
Assistant Head of School for Institutional Advancement
Ravenscroft School
7409 Falls of Neuse Road
Raleigh, NC 27615
(919) 847-0900 main
(919) 847-0900 x2232 direct
Neil Isakson Neil Isakson, IAP-L
Director of External Communications and Development Marketing
Worcester Academy
81 Providence St.
Worcester, MA 01604
(508) 754-5302 main
(508) 754-5302 x135 direct
L.J. Mitchell L.J. Mitchell, IAP-L
Director of Development
The Calhoun School
433 West End Ave.
New York, NY 10024
(212) 497-6500 main
Madeleine Ortman Madeleine Ortman, IAP-L
Academic Dean of the International Advancement Certification Program (IACP)

1316 North Union Street
Wilmington, DE 19806
(302) 656-4944 main

Penny Rogers Penny Rogers, IAP-L

1316 North Union Street
Wilmington, DE 19806
(302) 656-4944 main

Amy Riley Amy Riley, IAP-L
1316 North Union Street
Wilmington, DE 19806
(302) 656-4944 main
Steve Salvo Steve Salvo, IAP-L
Assistant Head for Advancement & Enrollment
Trinity Episcopal School
1315 Jackson Ave,
New Orleans, LA 70130
Paula Schwartz Paula Schwartz, Ed.D, IAP-L
Academy Convener
Senior Consultant and Director of ISM Fundraising Group
1316 North Union Street
Wilmington, DE 19806
(302) 656-4944 main
(302) 656-4944 x139 direct
Herb Soles Herb Soles, IAP-L, CFRE

1316 North Union Street
Wilmington, DE 19806
(302) 656-4944 main

Gigi Cooke Tysinger Gigi Tysinger, IAP-L
Director of Advancement Services
Norfolk Academy
1585 Wesleyan Drive
Norfolk, VA 23502
(757) 461-6236 main
(757)-452-6765 direct

Workshop Location
The Marquette Hotel
710 Marquette Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55402

Group hotel reservation rate of $199 is available until July 2, 2018. Subject to availability. Please wait until the workshop status is 'confirmed' before making your travel and hotel arrangements.

Advancement Academy 2018 is located at The Marquette Hotel in the heart of downtown Minneapolis.

Located on Nicollet Mall and connected to Crystal Court in the IDS Center, the Marquette Hotel is a short walk to the U.S. Bank Stadium, the Target Center, and the Hennepin Theatre District.

It’s also linked to the Minneapolis Skyway for easy access to offices, restaurants, shops, and nightlife. Attendees can take the light rail, just two blocks away, to get to the MSP Airport and the Mall of America.

The Academy registration fee includes:

  • Academy materials
  • Breakfast (Tuesday-Friday)
  • Lunch (Tuesday-Thursday)
  • Dinner (Monday night)
  • Refreshment breaks (Tuesday-Friday)
  • Social hours (Tuesday and Thursday)
  • Complimentary WI-FI access in the lodging room

Please let know in advance if you have any special dietary restrictions so that we can work with the executive chef to satisfy your needs.

Professional Credit

The Academy earns 40 credits towards your IACP certification.

What to Bring


The dress code is business casual.

Additional items to consider bringing

  • Laptop computer equipped for wireless for your learning sessions.
  • Personal care items
  • Rain gear and umbrella
  • Recreational equipment
  • Comfortable shoes or sneakers
  • Cool and casual clothing
  • Sweater or other warm clothing for sessions (air conditioning in the classrooms may be cool)
  • Extra pens, pencils, paper, business cards


Participants should recognize that the Academy requires full attention. Participants are expected to attend all keynotes, mentor groups, and workshops to received IACP credit and certificates. However, the resort provide plenty of things to do if you wish to bring your spouse, partner, or family. Only participants may attend ISM-sponsored meals.

Going Home

The Academy will adjourn at 11:30 am on Friday following the final celebration and certificate presentation. Note: Certificates only will be given to participants who attend all sessions including keynotes, mentor groups, and workshops.

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