Plan Your Work and Work Your Plan
by Gerry Ebbers, SCSBC Consultant for Stewardship and Development ◊
Imagine operating your school without a budget or a business manager. Instead, you charged parents whenever a cost arose. Utter chaos!
What is true for the business operations of the school is also true for the development program. Without a development plan and someone to run it, schools end up doing public relations and appeals as the need arises, and the result is a plethora of ineffective, counter-productive and non-stewardly fundraisers and campaigns. Then, when enrolment suddenly drops, the cry goes up, “What’s happening and why isn’t anyone doing anything?'”
If someone asked to see your school’s budget, I’m sure you could provide one quickly. You wouldn’t have to create one in order to respond to the request. The same should be true for the annual development plan. As an administrator or board member, do you have one at hand that you can pull out to show someone what you are doing, and to check on progress throughout the year? If you don’t, now is the time to set in motion the steps to ensure that you have one for the next school year.
And, just as an annual budget is concluded with a financial statement, so too an annual development plan is concluded with a report which analyzes the results of the plan, measuring success against the goals of the plan.
A development plan is usually in the form of a table. On the left are all the areas of development: data management; communications; community, public, church, and alumni relations; recruitment and retention; fundraising and planned giving. In the next columns, the plan shows the specifics events, program, and activities that will be used to accomplish your goals. Measurable goals are listed and progress towards those goals is monitored. The table lists who is responsible for each area and what the costs of the program will be.
It takes a small group of people to put the plan together. When it is complete, both the administration and board need to review and approve it. Once the plan is in place, the board needs to ensure that resources are provided to implement the plan. And the board should review quarterly updates on progress, just as they receive and review quarterly financial statements.
Remember, if you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.