Last week the Commonwealth of Massachusetts celebrated Patriots’ Day. Wikipedia says that Patriots’ Day is a “civic holiday commemorating the anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the first battles of the American Revolutionary War.”
All I know about Patriots’ Day is that it is also the day of the Boston Marathon. I am lucky enough to live about 50 yards from mile 23, a downward slope driving the marathoners to the final few miles. I myself am not a runner of any sort, but standing on the sidelines and cheering for thousands of runners is somewhat of a religion in Massachusetts.
The Marathon starts at 10am and by 3pm it is rough going on those who are still on the course. While I watched the stragglers finish up, some of whom had been running for more than six hours, I started thinking of all of the day schools who are in mile 23 of their Annual Campaign.
With just about two months of school left, most of you are in the final stretches of meeting your annual goal. How have you done this year? Are you past what you expected… will your school have a deficit or a surplus? I know all these questions are riding on your shoulders.
So, now it’s time to call in the big guns. While watching the marathon I kept hearing folks in the crowd cheer “finish strong.” So here are a few tips for how you can “finish strong” and maximize your annual fund this year:
- Calling All Parents: You started the year with a goal of 100% participation from parents. Now it’s time to reinvigorate that campaign. Recruit three parent volunteers who have already given and ask them to call those who haven’t. Ask them to communicate about the importance of having 100% parent participation and the message that sends to the community about the vitality of your school.
- Vision, Vision, Vision: Re-visit your vision for your school. What will be different next year if your annual fund exceeds its goals? How can you communicate that to donors who have not made an annual gift yet? Letting key prospects know that their gift will be instrumental in keeping key faculty in-place or accepting families who have greater financial needs can be vital.
- Re-focus Your Head of School: I know, your Head is so busy. There are so many competing items on his/her to-do list. Now is the time to re-focus their attention. Let them know that this is the sprint to the finish. Assign them key prospects to do personal follow-up with and provide the support needed to get the job done.
- Go Back to the Board: Be thankful to all board members who have given annual gifts and helped with solicitations. Ask each board member to take three names, just three, to follow-up with about their annual gift. Give them talking points about the vision of the school and what you will achieve by meeting your annual goal. How will each child’s experience be better because of their gift.
After we finished watching the marathon and were walking home, my first grader asked me “Mommy, why would all those people run so far?” I told him that people like a challenge and it is a great feeling of accomplishment to finish a marathon. I also told him that the Boston Marathon was so popular because it feels incredibly empowering to be part of something larger than yourself, running all 26.2 miles with throngs of screaming fans.
As he mulled that over and decided if I had given him an acceptable answer, I thought back to all of you and your annual fund marathons. Remember as you are “finishing strong” how much you like a challenge, and how incredible it will feel to meet and exceed your goal. Life in a Jewish day school is all about being part of something bigger than ourselves, and what a great way to finish the year.