Diving into Development
by Cathy Kits, SCSBC Consultant for Development ◊
So you have a heart for Christian education and the ability to articulate the mission and vision of your school. You probably have some marketing experience or training. You have good verbal, written communication and presentation skills. In addition, you have organizational and planning abilities.
Now somebody has recognized all that and suddenly you find yourself working in the area of development or community relations for your school.
I found myself in a similar place in 2000, starting the role with a single handwritten sheet of paper containing a small list of supporters and the beginnings of a job description. Over the past fifteen years, it has been both exciting and challenging to help create a development plan that promotes Christian education, engages various support communities, encourages involvement and raises financial support for the school.
Like many of you, I took previously learned skills into a new work environment and added new skills along the way. And like many of you, I have been discouraged at times. Expectations have not always aligned with my job description and, with no recipe for the work of development given the unique culture of each of our schools, there have been times of uncertainty. Are we going in the right direction? Is there a better way to recruit families, build community, raise funds? Do we have the resources to do what needs to be done? How are we going to get it all done? The truth is that we will always have questions and not one of us is going to get it all done.
However, I’ve learned some lessons along the way. As you strive to make your way through these sometimes murky waters I encourage you to:
- trust in God’s abundance and grace
- do away with the spirit of competition
- ensure that your job description reflects the work you are doing
- be clear about your school’s mission and core values
- bring your school board on board with the development plan
- set priorities for this year and the next three years
- reflect on your current program and bring in the people you need to help you make informed decisions about future initiatives
If you follow these suggestions you can, with assurance and passion, communicate a positive direction for the school’s development plan, one that will best support the educational program of the school.
I am still learning to discern God’s voice (1 Kings 19:12). It’s not always as loud as I would like, and the water is not always clear, but I am thankful each day for the privilege of being a part of God’s continuing faithfulness to our Christian schools.
As we continue in this awesome task set before us, it is good to know that we are not alone. “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged” (Deuteronomy 31:8). That message of courageous leadership in the midst of challenge is central as we make decisions that will make a difference in the lives of our school and the children who are our reason for doing what we do.