Advancement offices at colleges often focus on alumni engagement as a key part of their fundraising outreach, but, but K-12 schools face a much longer wait to ask their own alumni for donations. Instead, focusing on fundraising from your parent community is an effective way to make the most of this motivated group, who may only engage with your school for a number of years. Whether you’re just starting to focus on parent giving, or you’re looking for new ideas to involve parents in fundraising initiatives, check out these 7 tips:
Kick off your school year with an annual event for new parents to get to know the school and a chance to connect on the school's mission and ethos. You can follow this up with a personalised email summarising the advancement plans and sharing how to make a donation: the Judd School in the UK offers this opportunity annually, and last year raised $18,000 from new parent donors.
Some parents may not be aware that previous parents have donated to the school, and how this can help more students to attend the school, or to improve the experience of their own child’s experience through school development. Increase awareness of school giving practices by inviting a former parent to share their history of philanthropy, or by sharing examples and success stories in comms to parents.
A simple fundraising technique is to ask parents to donate their initial school fee deposit (which may be refundable) to your schools’ bursary fund, enabling more children to receive a great education. Why not consider including a count of how many parents donated their deposit to the school over the past few years in some of your parent comms, in your parent portal, or on your school website?
Some parents may not be able to help financially, or may not wish to donate at this time, but may be able to volunteer their time or professional services to help you meet your fundraising goals. By offering a variety of roles, from on-the-day support to parents willing to promote your initiatives to their friends, you can garner support from a larger proportion of your parent community who may give back.
Some online retailers facilitate a donation being made to your school cause when parents shop, using a special link. Making small donations over time can add up, and shows a level of affinity which may be used to identify major giving prospects in the future.
Keep your fundraising family-focused to create strong relationships both with students (future alumni and hopefully future givers!) and current parents. You could do this through family activity days, where you can charge for admission, food and drinks, and mini games. If you’re searching for new ideas, you could also try one of these events which work in-person or virtually:
Ideally, your parents will donate at least annually, if not more regularly, so it’s important to maintain a close connection and show your appreciation for their generosity. Make time during the year to give back to your parent community, and ensure stewardship is integrated into your advancement strategy from the start.
For ideas on how you can keep your fundraising events going while in-person meetings are not possible, check out our ‘Guide to Virtual Events’.
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