Annual Fund Writing Clinic

Chase Center on the Riverfront • Wilmington, DE




Status: OPEN
Certification Credits: 20 IACP

$1,821 Non-Member

Travel and accommodations not included

[$1,548.00 Gold Member]

Registration for workshop has closed

left the workshop with tools that I could actually use right away as we kicked off this year's Annual Fund drive. I have been to other workshops in which you leave with a notebook of reading information but nothing real practical to take back. The workshop felt personal. It was a small group so Paula and LJ were able to consult with me on an individual basis and give direct feedback that meant something to just me.

Laura Spitzig, Director of Advancement
Madison Community Montessori School, WI
Workshop Participant 2015

If your annual fund is the beating heart and top philanthropic priority of your school’s development efforts, then the materials you use to promote that fund are its lifeblood. Your portfolio of letters, envelopes, brochures, and folders must—technically and emotionally—tug the right strings with donors for your fund to set itself apart from its philanthropic competitors, exceed funding goals, and ultimately make your school the best it can be. Take this workshop if you want hands-on guidance to take your annual fund marketing materials from average to excellent.

In this two-day writing clinic led by one of ISM’s leading experts on building and rebuilding private, independent school annual funds, you will work hands-on with your school’s annual fund marketing materials to write, rewrite, or refresh your annual fund branding.

Take Your Annual Fund From A to Z and stay for this workshop ... pay only $990
additional tuition! Call 302-656-4944 to register.

Who Should Attend

New Development Directors or development staff and anyone in a new annual fund role, or experienced professionals who needs to give their materials a fresh approach should make time for this workshop, especially in conjunction with the “Your Annual Fund From A to Z” workshop.

We will work with you to:

  • Tell your story through your case for support.
    You want your case for giving to create a connection between your donors’ interests/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. Find your school’s authentic voice. Place that voice into your school’s unique story through the structure of a solicitation letter that captures the donor’s interest and attention. Write that letter!
  • Craft your inspiring letter appeals.
    Founded on the preparation that we have now done on finding your own authentic voice, create your mission-centered solicitation letter that captures the donor’s interest and attention. Discover and use the five essential elements of a successful appeal letter.
    • Date
    • The quotation case modifier
    • Personalized ask
    • Listing of cabinet
    • Real signature
  • Set your data-driven giving circles.
    Giving circles should be shaped around your annual fund donor list. Reviewing your annual fund gift list for every gift made, highest to lowest, you will segment those gifts in groupings that reveal ideas for giving circles that strategically optimize the solicitation, recognition and stewardship of your donors.
  • Design your crisp, simple brochure.
    The annual fund brochure presents an opportunity to showcase the key elements of your annual fund program: case for support, curricular and co-curricular programs supported by the annual fund, giving circles, volunteer cabinet, and robust photographs. We’ll show you a simply way to create and print such a brochure in-house. And then you’ll create a draft of your own.
  • Create your volunteer cabinet.
    Peer to peer cultivation, solicitation, recognition and stewardship is the hallmark of a successful annual fund. We will explore ways to identify your annual fund’s key constituents and how to create a volunteer cabinet structure that will inspire your community and lead to success. Thinking about your own volunteers, you will create your own cabinet to start your thinking about what might be possible.
  • Tell your story through photographs.
    Your students live the mission of your school. Make strategic choices as you select photographs to use in your school’s marketing efforts (website, admission, development). Looking at your own portfolio, establish key metrics for the choices you make in your materials.

Participants to bring:

  1. Annual appeal package – letters, brochure, business replay envelope, mailing envelope, letterhead.
  2. List of Annual Fund gifts $ high to low (please note every gift listed, not grouped). Excel format is preferred.
  3. Current Annual Fund Cabinet of Volunteers if you have one: positions held. If you do not, the names and titles of individuals who sign your letters.
  4. Digital portfolio of photos you use for admission, marketing/communications, and development efforts.

staff photo lj mitchell

L.J. Mitchell, IAP-L

ISM Advancement Consultant | Director of Advancement at Little Red School House & Elisabeth Irwin High School


L.J. provides expertise in development for private-independent schools, specifically building the annual fund and hosting special events fundraising.

Current Role

As an Advancement Consultant and founding Advancement Academy Faculty member with ISM, L.J.:

  • Leads or co-leads Summer Institute workshops on the annual fund and the development office
  • Teaches and mentors advancement professionals during ISM’s weeklong summer Advancement Academy
  • Leads one-day workshops on Find Your Story: What it Takes to Boost Your Annual Giving
  • Conducts annual fund action plan and volunteer training consultations
  • Assists ISM on Feasibility Study assignments, in particular working with clients to craft their campaign case statements

He holds the Leader Certification through ISM’s International Advancement Program (IAP−L).

L.J. is also the Director of Advancement at Little Red School House & Elisabeth Irwin High School in New York City, a 14-year progressive program for 650 students. Since he joined the school in July 2014, it has experienced record-setting annual giving results in both its annual fund and special events fundraising.

L.J. has presented at conferences for CASE-NAIS (2015, 2014-Stellar Speaker), NYSAIS, and The Episcopal Church of the United States. He continues to serve on the Board of Trustees for Mary McDowell Friends School in Brooklyn, NY.

Prior Experience

From 2013–14, L.J. was Director of Development at Seacrest Country Day School, a PK-12 college preparatory school for 450 students in Naples, FL. In its one year under L.J.'s leadership, the annual fund increased 185%.

Before joining Seacrest in July 2013, L.J. was the Director of Development for Mary McDowell Friends School in New York City, a K–12 independent Quaker school in Brooklyn that serves 390 students with learning disabilities. L.J. joined the school in 2008 as its first Director of Development. During his five-year tenure, the annual fund doubled and the school tripled its capital campaign dollars.

From 2005–2008, L.J. was Director of Development at The Churchill School and Center in New York City, which serves 400 students with learning disabilities in grades K–12. There, he exceeded his annual fund goal by $200,000 each year, for a total increase of 45% over three years. He supervised a $10 million endowment campaign for faculty enrichment, raised within a one-year period.


L.J. earned his master’s degree in fine arts from the American Conservatory Theater, CA; his juris doctorate from Suffolk University Law School, MA; and his bachelor’s degree from College of the Holy Cross, MA.

• Continental breakfast is available starting at 7:15 am

Day 1

7:00-9:00 Registration and Breakfast

8:30 – 10:45 Session One

10:45 – 11:00 Break

11:00 – 12:45 Session Two

12:45 – 1:45 Lunch with ISM

1:45 – 3:15 Session Three

3:15 – 3:30 Break

3:30 – 5:00 Session Four

5:00 – 5:30 General Session

5:30 - 6:00 Reception with ISM

6:00 Dinner with ISM

Day 2

8:30–10:15 Session Two

10:15-10:30 Break

10:30-12:15 Session Three

12:15-1:15 Lunch with ISM

1:15-3:00 Session Four

3:00-3:15 Break

3:15-5:00 Session Five

5:00–6:00 Reception with ISM

Day 3

8:30–10:15 Session Six

10:15-10:30 Break

10:30-12:15 Session Seven

12:15-1:15 Lunch with ISM

1:15-3:00 Session Eight

3:00-3:15 Break

3:15-5:00 Session Nine

5:00–6:00 Reception with ISM

Day 4

8:30-10:15 Session Ten

10:15-10:30 Break

10:30-12:00 Session Eleven/Action Planning

Workshop Location
Chase Center on the Riverfront
815 Justison St.
Wilmington, DE 19801

Hotel Location
Westin Wilmington
818 Shipyard Dr.
Wilmington, DE 19801

Group hotel reservation rate of $159 is available until May 30, 2016. Subject to availability. Please wait until the workshop status is 'confirmed' before making your travel and hotel arrangements.

Once you have registered for a workshop, please make your hotel reservation by clicking the RESERVE YOUR ROOM link above or by calling 302-654-2900 and letting them know you are with ISM. Follow the hotel link on your workshop page for room rates and reservations.

The riverfront has a lot to offer you to occupy your downtime after an intense day of professional development training. Follow the river walk for restaurants, the Russell Peterson Wildlife Refuge and the DuPont Environmental Education Center, the Delaware Children's Museum, and Stratosphere Trampoline Park, to name a few.

Take in a movie at the new Penn River Cinema, with not only comfortable stadium seating but also an IMAX theatre. At various times during Summer Institute, the Class A Wilmington Blue Rocks will take to the diamond at the next-door Frawley Stadium. For Planet Fitness members, there is a large facility across from the Westin.

The outstanding River Rock Kitchen is right inside the Westin, but you are also walking distance to the first-class Iron Hill Brewery, Delaware's Big Fish Grill, Timothy's on the Riverfront, Joe's Crab Shack, and Firestone; Udon Thai Cuisine and Kooma for Asian fusion; Molly's Ice Cream (sandwiches too!), the Riverfront Market and Harry's Seafood Grill just a little further down the Riverwalk.

You can also hop one of the Riverfront Trolleys to go to LOMA, or Lower Market Street, for more excellent restaurants we well as the Queen Theatre, home of the World Cafe Live Wilmington restaurant, bar, and music space.

Getting There

Please do not make any non-refundable travel arrangements until you receive an e-mail from ISM informing you the workshop is confirmed to run.

By plane and shuttle: Philadelphia International is the closest airport. A shuttle to Wilmington —a 45–60 minute ride, depending on traffic—costs about $33 each way. Visit the del reservation page and enter 207866 at the bottom under FREQUENT USER ID.You can reach Delaware Express at 800.648.5466.

Flights to Baltimore (BWI) can be less expensive, but it is an 80-mile trip to Wilmington. A shuttle costs about $125 each way, or you can rent a car at the airport.

By train: There is an Amtrak station in downtown Wilmington. You can request the hotel shuttle for transportation.

By car: Click here for directions from the Philadelphia Airport to the Westin Wilmington.

How will ISM communicate workshop information with me?

It is essential that your school approves the following e-mail addresses from ISM:

You will be receiving all communication—including your confirmation e-mail and access to your workshop's Google Drive account—from these e-mails.

What does my registration fee include?

All workshop materials, breakfasts, lunch or dinner daily, and social hours are included.

What is not included in my registration fee?

Hotel accommodations and travel expenses, other meals not noted.

What should I wear?

Summer temperatures average mid-80s to a low of 65. It can get quite hot—into the 90s—and humid. The classrooms and guest rooms are usually comfortable, but you may want to dress in layers in case the rooms are too warm or too cool for you. Dress is casual. Wear whatever is comfortable—jeans, sweat shirts, sweaters, etc. For current weather conditions, we recommend checking

What should I bring?

You’ll receive a letter from your workshop instructor letting you know what to bring. However, please bring a laptop or tablet for online access.

Where can I work out?

The Westin has a state-of-the-art fitness room and an exercise pool. Planet Fitness members can walk across the hotel parking lot to the expansive Riverfront Planet Fitness facility. The Riverwalk provides an excellent running and walking path as well.

Can my special dietary requirements be met?

Absolutely. Just give the Workshops Department a call at 302-656-4944, and we'll make sure your needs are accommodated.

How much free time will I have?

There are periods before, between, and after workshop sessions for relaxation, recreation, and socializing.

Should I need medical or dental attention, where should I go?

Should you need medical attention in a non-emergency, notify ISM staff and the hotel staff. The hotel can recommend what facilities are available, and may be able to supply transportation. In an emergency, call 911.

Confirmation Policy

We will correspond with you through e-mail as soon as your workshop is confirmed, no later than two weeks prior to its beginning. Occasionally, we may be forced to cancel an unconfirmed, scheduled workshop due to insufficient registration. So we ask that you do not make non-refundable travel arrangements until you receive notice that your workshop is confirmed. (ISM will not be responsible for any change/cancellation charges assessed by your airline or travel agent.)

Cancellation Policy

If circumstances change and you cannot attend the workshop, you must confirm your cancellation in writing via fax (302-656-0647) or email ( If you do so at least 10 business days prior to the start of the workshop, you can request a full refund of monies paid. Thereafter, but prior to the first day of the course, we will refund you all but $600. If you do not cancel in writing prior to the start date of the course, you will forfeit the entire workshop fee.

If you enroll using Consortium Credits, and cancel your attendance in writing at least 10 days prior to the start date of the workshop, all Credits will be returned to your school. Thereafter, but prior to the first day of the course, if you cancel, all but two of the Credits will be returned to your school. (You have the option of buying back those two Credits for $600.)

If you do not cancel in writing prior to the start date of the course, your school loses all the Consortium Credits used for payment.

Please note that non-payment of tuition does not constitute a cancellation. Failure to appear does not constitute a cancellation.

*We DO NOT accept enrollments from consultants.

blog comments powered by Disqus
Connect with ISM: