As we have previously written about, Bishop Vesey’s has been among the most successful UK grammar schools at soliciting donations from its fiercely loyal alumni. What has the school done to entice potential donors to support its various cases? What can other schools learn from Bishop Vesey’s?
There is perhaps no one better placed to answer those questions than the donor themselves. Peter Dines is a fund manager who focuses on investing in life sciences and biosciences companies. He recently gave a generous £25,000 gift to his alma mater, Bishop Vesey’s. We caught up with Peter to find out about what motivated him to donate.
What prompted you to donate?
I am a proud Old Veseyan, as I think my time at the school definitely shaped me and helped me to develop. When you are at school you don’t realise the benefits. Having developed a successful business career, I now know that much of what I learned at school helped me to get where I am today — leadership, the whole sporting side, being a prefect, how to foster the spirits and get people to join you on a journey. I’m incredibly grateful to the school.
I am mindful that education is being squeezed. Healthcare and education are political pawns unfortunately and there isn’t enough government funding for schools. I wanted to help Bishop Vesey’s keep up with the times and create experiences that students can benefit from.
How much did you donate?
I donated £25,000 and my time to head up the Growing Vesey Growing Minds Campaign to invest in improving facilities in STEM areas, which every school now needs. There is a shortage of engineers and the world doesn’t exist without tech. It was important for the school to do that.
How did the school approach you?
I was a governor at the school for 10 years and the Head approached me to lead the campaign. I was happy to give my time. It was also good timing, as I had just exited one of my investments and I was feeling good and generous. I felt it important that, if I’m asking others to donate, people need to see that I’ve made a donation as well.
What has the impact been of your donation?
It corner-stoned a campaign that raised over £1m and built the STEM building for the school.
How long did it take you to make the decision to donate?
A few minutes. My circumstance lent itself to that.
Have any of your peers made similar donations to schools?
Some people I went to school with and others in other years whom I am associated with. Really it was the whole community supporting the campaign at Bishop Vesey’s — a combination of alumni and parents.
Have you visited the school recently?
Yes, regularly. I’m not still a governor, but I’m a Vesey ambassador.
What advice do you have for schools which are trying to fundraise?
We benefitted from a professional fundraiser approach. Alternatively, try to get someone in your fundraising group who has had some professional fundraising experience. You need a group of committed, likeminded individuals to manage the campaign a bit like a sales process — segment the target market and set individual fundraising targets.
For a fundraising campaign to be successful you need likeminded people. The Head needs to be really engaged and must go into sales mode. Naturally educators are not usually salespeople.
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