As part of our UK journey, Funderful and fundraising guru Dave Celone (fundraising consultant and former director of Tuck Annual Giving at Dartmouth College in Hanover NH, achieving a 72% world-record annual alumni participation rate) took to the streets of Oxford, UK, to host a session at the annual IDPE (The Institute of Development Professionals in Education) conference on the topic of Fundraising’s virtuous circle in schools, analysing and discussing how a school’s core capacities will help illuminate new ways of reconnecting with alumni and inspire volunteer leaders.
With no prior expectations, it was a refreshing discovery that the conference participants and
hosts were exquisitely kind and welcoming – the atmosphere made us feel much at ease. During the session, Dave Celone and I spoke about the importance of alumni and volunteer engagement, setting up giving programmes and some of the best U.S. school practices.
The session itself was dynamic, full of vibrant and energetic participants. Dave and I both presented, him focusing on the thesis that we, as fundraisers “should engage [potential donors] where they lead their private lives, when they want to switch off from work and their daily worries – on social media and mobile,” while I talked about the increasing need to “provide alumni with an emotionally charged experience and how digital campaigns are ideal for that.”
Key lessons from the session:
- Independent schools are at different levels in
their development stage, but many do annual giving already;
- Small communities have a powerful sense of belonging;
- Only a low proportion of community members is contactable – therefore the need to rely on peers helping reach their peers;
- There is powerful rivalry within smaller communities, most often among houses (thanks to the lively discussion with Jemma Joyce at dinner) – that force should be used for the benefit of fun campaigns and good causes;
- Smaller communities are perfect for doing fun annual digital rivalry campaigns that mimic the fun, friendly rivalry of sports games, while offering community members to relive the fond memories of their youth, fostering a tradition of regular giving in the process.
We sincerely thank all the session attendees for their invaluable contribution – you guys made the session both lively and informative. Until next time!
P.S. Last but not least, a special thanks to Ali James from Buffalo for the lift to Oxford!