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Effective strategies to generate financial and community support in educational institutions

Five key stages to attract supportive donors and strengthen participation in international schools.


Discover how to encourage and obtain financial and community support in educational institutions. Learn the effective strategies and essential stages to attract supportive donors and achieve the transformation and development of an impactful educational organization.


CONTENT:

  • Challenges and factors to consider

  • Effective strategies to generate support

  • Fundraising Plan Customization

  • Conclusions


When looking for ways to build financial and community support for an educational institution, a big question arises: What is the most effective way to do it? There really is no recipe for an effective plan to encourage and engage donors; many elements must be taken into consideration, especially in international schools. The country and its culture of philanthropy, the campaign itself, and government regulations can influence the fundraising strategy and its outcome. It is impossible to overstate the importance of internalizing the reason that motivates people to donate. There are many possible reasons for someone to make a donation to one institution or another, but in the end, they make their contribution because they want to make a difference and be part of the transformation and development of an educational organization that positively impacts its students and, as a final result, society.


financial and community support

Here, we share the strategies that have worked in our experience in this area, hoping readers will find aspects that can be replicated or improved in their own communities.


We suggest focusing your attention on five basic stages to attract supportive donors:

  1. Build your case

  2. Involve volunteers

  3. Identify potential donors

  4. Request financial support

  5. Connect and engage with donors - stewardship


First, building your case involves knowing every detail and feature of the project, anticipating potential concerns that may arise, and preparing responses. In this process, the goals, the purpose of the program or campaign, and how the money received will be used are defined. It is important to point out the specific aspects of how receiving financial support will benefit the students' educational experience, whether by improving the academic program or facilities.


Once the objectives have been established, it is necessary to involve volunteers who are members and have a connection to the institution to help achieve the established goals. A parent committee, for example, is a powerful and valuable resource to collaborate in the identification of potential donors and open the doors to coordinate an appointment with them. Graduates of the institution are also often ideal allies to be part of the volunteer team. The participation of one of these volunteers in all meetings with the potential donor is highly recommended. It is vital to set specific and measurable objectives for the volunteer team so that their work is recognized and appreciated at the end of the academic year. Likewise, the team's confidentiality commitments to the institution must be addressed and defined.


The third phase of the process is to identify potential donors. To do this, a brainstorming session is held with the participating volunteers where they list the names of the people or companies to contact after researching their philanthropic history – the causes they normally support, the alignment with the project that will be presented to them, as well as the ability and affinity to donate. At this point, it is also important to determine the amount to solicit from each potential donor. This will define the number of donors needed to reach the goal.


Once there is a robust list of potential donors, each volunteer connects the school with those prospects to whom they have direct access to coordinate an appointment, present the project, and make a request for financial support. Preparation for this stage requires establishing clear limits of what can and cannot be offered in exchange for the support to be requested, as well as the acceptable and unacceptable proposals that may be received from the donor. During this step, it is extremely important to master the art of listening. Pay attention to what potential donors say during the meeting and ask the right questions to get them talking about our school or program, keeping in mind that it is said that people remember about 30% of what they hear and 70% of what they say. Once an agreement has been reached, it is recommended to record it in writing, in a contract that is as detailed and clear as possible.


Finally, connecting and engaging with donors by creating a donor stewardship plan is good practice. Find ways to thank the people and companies that offer their financial support. At the end of each school year, one idea is to send thank you letters and evidence showing the impact of their donation and the difference their contribution makes. It is essential to keep them informed of the development of the school and the significant achievements of the community of students and teachers to encourage their loyalty and future contributions. When including images or videos, priority should be given to capturing moments of school life, always showing students in classrooms and spaces where learning experiences take place.


There is no single formula for a successful fundraising campaign. Each institution must present its project, highlighting the elements that relate it to its mission and vision in order to identify companies and people whose social responsibility practices and actions demonstrate that they are aligned with the objectives of the educational institution that requires support.


In summary, generating financial and community support at educational institutions requires effective strategies, such as building a strong case, engaging volunteers, identifying potential donors, soliciting their support, and connecting with them. Personalizing your fundraising plan, showing gratitude, and maintaining proper communication are key to success in this endeavor. With commitment and strategic focus, it is possible to drive educational transformation and make a positive difference in society.


Vielka Morales

Institutional Advancement Consultant

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