Many schools do not have the wherewithal to fund a dedicated development offi cer. But even a few hours a week can make a difference. So FundEd and Future First have collaborated to produce this guide to getting started.

DATA Decide how you will store alumni contact details securely once consent is given, ensuring you meet data protection regulations. This might be a password-protected spreadsheet or an online resource, such as Future First’s alumni portal. Consider what additional information would be useful: current location and job, year of leaving school, further qualifi cations and university, interests, specifi c skills or experience.

SPREAD THE WORD Let your alumni know you’re building a network and that you value their input and support. (The more alumni you can get involved, the more attractive the network will become.) ■ Set up records for your current students and recent leavers. ■ Create an alumni sign-up page on your website. ■ Ask school staff to reach out to former pupils they’re in contact with. ■ Contact parents (some of whom may be alumni). ■ Ask local businesses to publicise your call to alumni on their staff intranet or other network. ■ Ask alumni themselves to spread the word. ■ Use local media to reach out to alumni in the community. ■ Use social media to tap into potential networks. Shape messages to appeal to a range of motivations (such as an opportunity to reconnect with old classmates or to give back). Ask alumni what they’d like and how they’d like to be contacted. Facebook allows you to link between school pages, community groups and individuals.

Twitter is useful for frequent posts asking alumni to get in touch, which can be easily

retweeted. You can also post regular updates about your alumni community. LinkedIn enables you to search for alumni by school and send personalised invites.

ENGAGE Regular communication is the key to building engagement between your school and alumni network. This applies to both primary and secondary schools. Termly updates, such as an alumni e-bulletin, work well. Nurturing relationships is an important part of building a donation culture. Nostalgia is a powerful

marketing tool, so make use of old photos and accounts that trigger memories and evoke emotion. Make alumni feel they’re a

valued part of the school community by publicising their support and the difference it has made. Never miss an opportunity to say thank you – the more personalised the better. The Institute of Development Professionals in Education (IDPE) notes that alumni value personal interaction from headteachers, even if this is as simple as a polite request or ‘thank you’. Use social media to post visual content with an emotional impact,

as well as introducing notable alumni and showing how alumni donations have made a difference. Make communication interactive

and personal, highlighting the benefi ts of joining the alumni community (such as professional networking, brand promotion or sending a thank you message to a teacher). Ask alumni to share their stories and updates on your alumni page – and to talk about how they’re working with you. Invite alumni back to school

plays and concerts and encourage informal get-togethers (there’s no need to wait for an anniversary reunion, although this can make a good focal point). Reinvite potential joiners or

event attendees if they’ve expressed an interest but haven’t taken the next step. Remember, they are the most likely people to join if asked again. Be aware that your alumni

community is made up of people who are good at making things happen – and they could bring far more to the school than you originally envisaged.


The William Ellis School in Camden, London, rolled out a £30,000 PTA fundraising appeal to its alumni last summer, after building up a network with Future First. The aim was to buy digital equipment for students learning

at home. Donations had reached £15,000 by the end of the year. One anonymous donor gave £10,000, saying they’d ‘enjoyed a wonderful free education at William Ellis and wanted to enable others to have the same in these difficult times’.

16 SPRING 2021 FundEd

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