How are you looking at your fundraising rate of return?
It is critical that you develop a variety of ways to measure your performance and report these results to the board.
In doing so, you are ensuring appropriate stewardship of your resources through demonstrating that your fundraising is efficient and effective. While it does cost money to raise funds, as professionals, we need to be assured that we aren’t spending excessive amounts to do so. While our board should be looking at these types of benchmarks, we can be sure that our donors and public is. Take a look at the recent issue surrounding the Wounded Warriors national charity.
It is important that we do invest in fundraising and administrative costs in these functions appropriately, even though there is much criticism for doing so.
What constitutes a reasonable amount?
James Greenfield wrote several important books several years ago, and I regularly still find myself turning to his outline on how to best measure the costs of fundraising. One book, in particular, has been especially valuable. It is titled, Fundraising Cost Effectiveness: A Self-Assessment Workbook and was written in 1996. He highly recommends the importance of benchmarking to other similar organizations in the sector both aggregate and on an individual fundraising level. What are best practice and industry standards and how does your organization compare?
It is only through this analysis that we can say that our fundraising is within acceptable boundaries of efficiency.
As a fundraising consultant, I spend lots of time auditing organization’s fundraising effectiveness through auditing their development function comparing it to industry standards.
I was recently approached by my local Catholic elementary schools to put together some thoughts about building an alumni base that could possible provide scholarship fund assistance.
Some elementary schools have very robust elementary alumni efforts and some, like my particular community, are non-existent.
These days, elementary schools are faced with the need to provide scholarships and tuition assistance. They just can’t keep pace with the changing reality and demographics. Many must change their current model in order to remain robust and relevant. So in an effort to assist, I have put together some simple steps towards this aim that I want to share with you.
Here are some simple steps you can take to start building your elementary school alumni efforts:
1. Develop alumni mailing lists
Develop a database for current students contact information
Research past student attendance and other available records for known graduates and alumni
Utilize social media strategies (Twitter/Facebook) to obtain names and contact information
Post “ads” in local church bulletins
2. Create an official alumni group/committee with a specific mission, vision, and strategy.
Determine structure of this group. If multiple elementary schools are considering forming one alumni association, perhaps look at “donor designation” fund models for structural examples
Determine if you want to have annual alumni association dues
3. Develop strong and compelling “case for support” or your rationale for elementary education in your community.
Let them know that the school in their “dusty memories” hasn’t stopped growing and striving for success
Show them computer labs and any other technological advances the school has made. Establish special project funds i.e. “technology fund”
Establish an Alumni scholarship fund. For just a few dollars, alumni can make sure that any child who wants to attend the school, regardless of economic status, will have the chance. Gifts can be made in the name of a family member, a corporation, or anonymously. Regardless of how the gift is presented, it does give the alumnus a sense of true inclusion in the on-going development of the school
4. Develop and conduct an initial mailing and/or social media contact to all known alumni, introducing them to the forming association, requesting them to update and verify their contact information, and inquiring if there are any interested volunteers for the committee.
5. Plan and host a “launch” event with broad appeal to attract as many alumni as possible through advertising in local paper, radio, TV, social media and personal networks and invites.
Celebrate long-time teachers and invite all past-students to celebrate
Catholic elementary school reunion, milestone or anniversary
Advertise in local paper, radio, and TV
6. Create alumni web-page for Catholic elementary schools
Develop a website that could host this page
Share alumni news, post old photos, current photos, post old athletic records, etc.
Share alumni year-books
Sell alumni – wear on website, etc.
7. Create alumni social media presence for elementary schools
8. Create printed and e-mail alumni newsletter with return envelope that is mailed at least three times per year.
9. Create direct mail program with at least two mailings per year.
10. Organize special yearly events to support the Alumni Scholarship Fund.
Can host special reunions for those classes celebrating their 25th, 50th, etc. reunion
Special anniversaries or milestones, etc
While not all-inclusive, I think that these steps provide any elementary school with a springboard for launching their alumni efforts.
What are your thoughts and suggestions? Email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.