b'DEVELOPMENTBEYOND HOPEDevelopment should be right at the heart of a schools central management function. But it is no good just wishing and hoping for a lucky financial return. Ian McLean reportsThe school development office is much more thanoffice completely separate from an alumni office or simply a fundraising office and its performancethe marketing department has the potential to delay should be judged accordingly. Development is notthe effectiveness of development efforts.fundraising. Development is a strategic operation of relationships, communication and fundraising:However, the past does not equal the future! Just in that order. It means the role of the developmentbecause the school has established contact with office is integral to the school and is more diverseformer students, and research may show that than some believe as it sits at the hub of the schoolsthey have the capacity to help, but this should not external relations. assume a level of support: contrary sometimes to the expectations of those in leadership positions whose Building relationships focus may simply be the bottom line or where is Successful school development is based onthe money going to come from?. The development building relationships primarily with parents andand nurturing of relationships through individual former students. Going deeper than this, however,connections and event activity is essential when is the importance of building and maintainingsupport is not obvious.relationships with existing and potential donors, local community and businesses, and thoseSchools today benefit from the growth of individuals who have the interest, influence anddevelopment activity and fundraising within the enthusiasm to help in other ways. education sector generally, with many families aware and accepting of similar activity and approaches The past year or two has been difficult for schoolfrom other schools and universities with whom they development offices in the UK and it has cementedmay be associated. Integrating fundraising with the need to base development and fundraisingalumni relations activity becomes a more natural on relationship-building. Some schools haveprocess after a period of genuine friend-raising successfully begun appeals during this time, mainlyactivity. The development office must be actively for support of the schools bursary provision and,engaged and spend time meeting people with in particular, for hardship cases which have led to athe brokering of key relationships, often being a more developed into a much greater online presencemeasure of successful development work.with alumni.A longer-term viewCommunication and transparency The need for funds is naturally a major reason why Warm relationships are built on personal contactsa development office is established. In the past, a but also a sense of engagement to the schoolschool would simply launch a fundraising campaign community, alongside a communications strategy usually guided by an expensive consultancy firm that keeps the school community well informed with results often falling way below fundraising about the school, its progress and its plans. Majorexpectations. Then in the early 2000s schools donors expect complete transparency both on thebegan to see the benefit of a development office vision and planning and the financial picture beforeintroducing regular fundraising alongside extensive making any major financial commitment. This isengagement activity. Those schools that began this highlighted regularly by potential donors as a keyactivity with a full understanding of the realistic ingredient of proper engagement. time involved, have reaped enormous benefits over the past 20 years while, unfortunately, there The past does not equal the future are many stop-start examples where unrealistic The role of development and fundraising is muchexpectations and timeframes have been placed on more widely accepted when the developmentthe development office in a culture where asking office is observed as the hub of parent and alumnifor money was seen as crass but yet expected relationships and a source of regular communicationto be carried out by a junior or inexperienced and event management. To keep the developmentdevelopment officer. 34 www.independentinsight.netIwww.iexcellence.co.ukIwww.i25awards.co.uk'