Liz Allen is the director of online communications at The American School in London.
It was an honor to be asked by CASE Europe‘s Executive Director Kate Hunter to help shape the 2013 CASE Annual Conference in Manchester. Andrew Beales, foundation director at Giggleswick School in North Yorkshire, and I were tasked with planning the conference’s schools track to include sessions tailored to delegates from international and independent schools.
What We Heard Prior to the Conference
These are the things we hear over and over from colleagues working in advancement at independent and international schools—small team, one (wo)man band, starting from next to nothing, building a program and small budgets. Passionate staff members often ask how they can do more, have impact and maintain reasonable expectations from their governing bodies and headmasters. So we decided to seek out speakers who have addressed these challenges, have done the research and who are passionate practitioners themselves.
During the course of two days, delegates walked away with concepts and ideas spanning the granular to the strategic.
- It’s all about the long game. Building a culture of giving in your school is a long-term prospect.—Headmaster Peter Hamilton, and Peter Spence, director of external relations, from Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ School, during “Lessons Learnt: Adapting American Advancement to European Schools and Colleges.”
- Customize content. International alumni are all individuals with different needs and interests, not just a big group of people who happen to live abroad.—Liz Allen, director of online communications and alumni relations at The American School in London, during “A Global Perspective: International Alumni Communications and Engagement.”
- Climb the ladder is key when strategizing alumni engagement. Move alumni up the ladder through communications, events and volunteering.—Alison Gardner, head of development and alumni relations at Sheffield High School, during “Alumni Relations in Schools – Building the Foundations.”
- Manage expectations with a business plan. Be strategic and what you can and cannot do with your time and resources.—Clive Watkins, director of advancement at the International School of Prague, during “Doing More with Less: the Secrets of Effective (but small) Advancement Offices.”
- Be a visible part of your community. Work with students, coach a sport, teach.—Simon Jones, director of development at Manchester Grammar School, during “Using Organisational Culture to Your Advantage: An Insight into Manchester Grammar School’s Bursary Campaign.”
- Giving is an expression of humanity. We must create a real and lasting culture of philanthropy in our society.—John Nickson, philanthropist and author, during “Why Does Giving Matter?”
What We Learned
There were numerous “track jumpers”—delegates from universities who left their tracks to take part in the schools sessions. We even had delegates from universities at the schools-only closing reception! This “cross-tracking” was one of the highest compliments we could have received. It also proves an important point—regardless of our institutional affinities (schools, universities, colleges), many of us are struggling with the same issues and the conference provided the opportunity to learn from all types of institutions.