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Articles > Fundraising Ideas > Creating a cycle of support: Building a brand for bursaries

Creating a cycle of support: Building a brand for bursaries

A round-up of ToucanTech's panel at the IDPE Bursaries & Partnerships conference, joined by St Swithun's School, Kingswood School and Lady Eleanor Holles school

We are delighted to return to in-person conferences this year, with the HMC, IDPE & AGBIS Bursaries & Partnerships Conference first on the agenda in March 2022. It was great to see so many of you face to face, and to share insight from ToucanTech customers during our panel session ‘Creating a cycle of support: Building a brand for bursaries’. 

ToucanTech co-founder, Kate Jillings, was joined by Allegra Van Steenwyk, Development Officer at Lady Eleanor Holles, Graham Papenfus, Director of Development at Kingswood School, and Veryan Vere Hodge, Director of Development at St Swithun’s School. Together, they answered questions from the audience about their experiences in bursary fundraising, strategies to encourage donations to bursary funds, and sharing the impact of bursaries. 

Read some of their answers to the questions below:

How has major donor relationship management changed for you over the past two years?

Veryan: This is totally down to the individual and what they want to support. Some are more willing to support capital campaigns, others prefer to support bursary campaigns, but overall the donor pipeline has shortened. Virtual meetings can contribute to this shorter cycle before donating, but virtual networking can make it difficult to build relationships. However, in some cases, COVID may have slowed down the giving process where donors are unable to visit the school. 

How do partnership projects complement your bursaries programme?

Allegra: A lot of partnership projects were on hold during COVID but we are getting back into it. We have sixth form students who volunteer as mentors, and try to build students' love of learning outside of the academic classroom. We are over-subscribed with our applications, but we continue to fund the programme we want to support more. 

How do you balance promotion of your bursary campaign alongside capital campaigns?

Graham: Every school is different, and will have a different split of donors between alumni/former parents and current parents, and will also find that capital campaigns and bursary campaigns may attract different levels of interest and donations. It depends on the strategic plan for the school as to how you can promote different funds and what the priority is at that time. However, it can work to promote bursary campaigns alongside capital campaigns; the Kingswood 275 fundraising campaign focused on two capital projects as well as transformational bursaries. We have also encouraged former bursary recipients to give back a bursary which can be named after the recipient. 

How do you keep your leavers engaged and willing to give back? 

Veryan: We have a regular giving club (named after the year the school was founded). We arrange a regular time slot for the Old Girls to speak virtually, and then we share the recording of the talk on our ToucanTech platform. Old girls come onto our campus to help with interviews and careers for younger students, and students are excited to find out more about where our alumnae are working and their career paths. 

We were also delighted to share the new Bursary Showcases booklet at our exhibition stand.  Several of our UK school customers kindly contributed to the inspiring new booklet, by sharing details of their bursary programmes, fundraising, and partnership activities with the local community. You can download a digital copy of the Bursary Showcases pack here

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