Independent and private schools face unique challenges when it comes to alumni cultivation and stewardship. That’s why we are pleased to share CCS’s newest whitepaper, Moving the Needle from Alumni Engagement to Alumni Giving.  Inspired by a packed-room session at this year’s CASE-NAIS conference, this paper is a joint venture authored by CCS’s Doug Adolph, Assistant Vice President, along with Detroit Country Day School’s (DCDS) Stefanie Smith, Alumni Relations Manager and Dawn Vassel, a DCDS alumna.

In 2014, DCDS, an independent Pre-K through 12 school located just outside of Detroit, engaged CCS to perform a comprehensive development assessment.  After the assessment phase, CCS concluded that alumni participation in fundraising was one of DCDS’s greatest areas of growth. CCS then helped DCDS develop a robust alumni program, the goal of which was to promote a higher level of support for DCDS alumni that would, in turn, encourage higher levels of giving.

Some key tips from the paper include:

  • Define what success looks like. Not every school will have the same goal when it comes to alumni engagement. Alumni program objectives must be clear and measurable for it to be successful.
  • Resist the temptation to engage the entire alumni universe.  Narrowing the scope of alumni constituents helps build a focused program to meet the needs of the closest and most accessible alumni. 
  • An alumni engagement plan looks a lot like a campaign plan. Creating an alumni engagement plan should come naturally to campaign directors. Like a campaign plan, it should include goals, budget, timeline, and clearly delineated roles.
  • Don’t forget to integrate alumni engagement with prospect cultivation. DCDS made it a point to use reunion years to encourage special gifts. They also incorporate fundraising and campaign news into all alumni communications.

This white paper is a tool for any independent school leader struggling to get a handle on alumni engagement and giving. Read more about the engagement plan – and its results – by visiting our website.


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