Best Practices for Your Development Program
by Gerry Ebbers, Consultant for Stewardship and Development ◊
What are the key elements of a successful development program? Consider the following, and check to see if these programs are in place in your school.
An annual giving program that provides a variety of opportunities throughout the year for your donors to respond to your needs. Best practice is to also provide a variety of areas to which donors can direct their gifts. Getting your school on the list of causes that a donor supports is crucial to increasing your annual gift income and is the only way to create the base of support you will need when you undertake a capital campaign. And don’t neglect to thank your donors for their support. It is easier to retain donors than to cultivate new ones, although you must continue to do that as well.
A communications program that reaches all parts of your constituency regularly (3 or 4 times a year) with key messages about your school, its vision and mission, its needs, and how the school is using the gifts it receives. Remember to communicate clearly with your staff as well. Use your website effectively to share information, to provide video clips of your mission in practice, and to engage your constituents.
A development network that broadens your support base and expands your effectiveness. Is your school connected to the churches which your students’ families attend? Do you have lawyers and financial planners that work with your planned giving program? Are you using your contacts in day care programs and preschools to recruit your students?
An annual analysis of your development program checking your success against the goals you set for the year. If you are not setting goals, then you will not be able to evaluate the effectiveness of your activities and programs. That usually leads to a plethora of activities that keep you busy without producing the results you want.
A periodic development program review using the services of SCSBC to check if your program is complete and effective. Such an analysis can point out gaps in your program and suggest cost-effective ways of improving your connections with your constituents in order to improve your recruitment and fundraising results.