Your school governors can be the biggest advocates of your development office and your top fundraisers, but getting everyone on the same page with what development means can be tricky. The development office must find a way to utilise the governors’ skills and make them feel included and valued, and to build a relationship with open communication and clear goals.
This is of paramount importance in international schools, where alumni are likely to be based abroad and building long-term engagement with wider school communities can be boosted by getting the right set of stakeholders on board.
In the recent webinar, hosted by Deborah Eleftheriou, head of development and company secretary at St Catherine’s British School, based in Greece, explains how her two roles have enabled her to build strong relationships with governors and shares some tips to take away for educating and involving governors with a personal approach. With an ambitious development plan ahead of her, she is working closely with governors to hit their targets and build lasting relationships with the school community.
Governors may have varying degrees of connection to your school; whether they are a former or current parent, or have lots of experience as a governor or trustee, they each have their own reasons for supporting the school. However, they may also have differing levels of education about development, including what this means for the school and how they can be a part of progressing the development plan.
When educating governors, it’s important to empower them by clearly explaining the link between development and school advancement, and their role as a link between the development office and the wider school community. Think about how they can tell your story in their own words, so that they can feel authentic when speaking to parents or alumni about why they should consider supporting the school, and the impact they know they can have. Some governors may be more confident making ‘the sell’ and closing conversations about donations, but try to reinforce that not everything that counts can be counted; the relationships that they build, and the cultivation and stewardship that evolves as part of this are all vital to the overall fundraising result.
In order for fundraising to be successful, integration with teachers, the senior leadership team, parents and governors is essential. One of the ways that St Catherine’s School is building integration across the school is through their ‘Curriculum Links’ programme, an initiative to connect governors to a key stage or subject area which they receive updates on from the teachers and head of department at regular points throughout the year. They can then become the external advocate for the subject, and will be able to explain to the community why the funds are needed and how it will help advance learning in that area.
In addition, the team is developing a Marketing & Development committee, to share expertise with governors and educate further on the roles of marketing, admissions and development in school growth, as well as creating a designated governor role for development & alumni, to champion development efforts and be the voice in governor meetings.
Consider creating similar groups or establishing clear lines of communication to keep governors updated about what matters most to them, and regularly providing them with reasons to connect.
Governors can be instrumental in developing a culture of philanthropy; their support is crucial for gaining widespread approval of your development plan both internally and externally. With their connections, governors can become a driving force for your cause, speaking to people at events and participating in your major giving programme. This is why it’s important to dissect and ask for advice from governors about your case for support, and to build a narrative and story that governors will feel confident in sharing.
Creating an online community is one of the ways that governors can begin to become more involved in your efforts. Governors could be used as an engagement touchpoint, by inviting them to sign up and speak to parents or arrange a meeting via the online community. In addition, managing data with an integrated CRM enables engagement with governors to be logged, so that you can directly see the impact they are having and how conversations with donors are progressing.
To learn more about how an all-in-one system can help you to build a school community that gives back and measure the impact of your activities, speak to a member of the ToucanTech team.
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