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Cover story


A Future First alumni volunteer joins pupils at a workshop at Belmont Primary School in Harrow


A DATA-BASED APPROACH


When Lucy Lock became fundraiser manager at Westcliff High School for Girls two years ago, creating an alumni database was high on her ‘to-do’ list. The selective grammar school for girls in Westcliff on Sea, Essex, had a long-established ‘old girls’ association but was struggling to attract younger alumni. ‘I wanted to extend the existing


network through a relaunch that would target as many generations as possible,’ says Lucy. ‘I’d seen research by the IDPE showing that some schools, particularly in the independent sector, were doing a lot to engage their alumni in philanthropic support. I was convinced that actively reaching out to former pupils could make a significant difference to our fundraising potential.’ After researching the options


and asking other schools for recommendations, the school invested in a CRM and database, provided by ToucanTech, with an online alumni community that links to the main school website. The new tool enables Lucy to manage alumni records and communication effectively. It also functions as a platform for running campaigns and for collecting online donations, with the option to run segmented


campaigns aimed at certain year or interest groups.


Additionally, the online


community provides a hub for alumni to connect, and even to set up their own groups, clubs and events. ‘The database is in its infancy, but what’s great is that we can see at a glance who has signed up,’ says Lucy. ‘It’s important to target former pupils with communication they will engage with, rather than bombard them with irrelevant mailings. We recently carried out a soft launch to 200 ‘old girls’ as a test. Around 70% of them opened the email promoting the site as a networking resource for them, and the response to the new site has been fantastic. ‘We’ve also introduced the site to


the parents of current pupils, as some are alumni themselves. We intend to build the network with our sixth formers as they leave so they can stay in touch with us – and each other.’ The database stores information


on alumni careers and workplaces, providing a valuable resource bank of potential contacts for networking and mentoring opportunities. ‘The information we gather on the achievements of former pupils enriches our school offer to prospective pupils,’ says Lucy.


FOR MORE INFORMATION The Future First ConnectEd


alumni programme costs £2,250 +VAT a year for the development of an online database, regular member updates and an outsourced alumni officer. Schools have their own account on the Future First alumni portal, with links to their website. Separate packages for primary schools start at £800 for an initial strategy meeting, staff training and a digital toolkit. futurefirst.org.uk


18 SPRING 2021 FundEd


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