As the old adage goes, “Two heads are better than one.” Nowhere was that more apparent than in the fast paced and highly interactive session Annual Fund 101 Speed Networking at the recent CASE/NAIS conference. Throughout the session, participants exchanged concrete ideas that could be implemented at their own schools—regardless of the size of their institution, office or budget—with little effort or cost.

Although geared toward individuals new to annual giving, any fundraiser looking to push the boundaries of their program could benefit from the new ideas and strategies that surfaced during the session’s discussion.

The session was broken into six ten-minute increments, each led by a host who moved around the room sharing insights and ideas about their given topic before opening the conversation to the table for questions and comments. Participants were encouraged to learn from each other, swap business cards and keep the information exchange going throughout the conference and after returning home.

The session generated some key takeaways:

    • Current Parent Fundraising (hosted by Alexander McDowell, Peddie School)
      Making the case for support is critical when cultivating parents. Parents need to understand why support beyond tuition is necessary and how their child benefits. Consider developing a parents’ guide to giving and getting involved. Produce a booklet, a one pager or specific messaging in appeals that educates parents about the school’s budget, the role the annual fund plays and other ways to get involved.
    • Working with Volunteers (hosted by Brooke Buchanan, Schultz & Williams)
      Each volunteer group is distinct and needs to be treated differently. Meet volunteers where they are, using tactics such as virtual trainings and phonathons. Utilize Google Drive, EverTrue, Doodle or your database to share information with your volunteers. Most importantly, provide a way out if a volunteer role is not a good fit. Understand that volunteers’ situations change. Be flexible and gracious.
    • School Culture (hosted by Jenn Bradley, Mercersburg Academy)
      Use your mission language in appeals and stewardship pieces—and talk about the impact! Consider how the rest of your school thinks about your work and their role in it. Teach students (future alumni) about philanthropy, paying it forward and gratitude.
    • Using Data in Fundraising (hosted by Christine Kitzmiller, Flint Hill School)
      Be disciplined and consistent in your reporting. Know where your numbers are coming from and be curious about trends you see. Use data analysis to inform strategies and decisions about what to do the same and what to stop doing. Code and track appeals, solicitations and phonathons.
    • New Frontiers: Day of Giving (hosted by Carter Learnard, The Episcopal Academy)
      Planning for your day of giving is key and should begin one year in advance. Consider a challenge and secure match money. Use a day of giving as an opportunity to acquire new donors or reactivate lapsed donors with incentives and recognition.
    • New Frontiers: Young Alumni (hosted by Carter Learnard, The Episcopal Academy)
      Meet young alumni where they are (this will require multiple strategies). Make giving EASY and MEANINGFUL.
    • Leadership Giving (hosted by Lisa Marin, The Hun School)
      Establish a leadership gift committee that helps screen and personally solicit prospects. Give them a few names at a time and build upon success. Employ the power of a challenge – focus on new leadership level gifts and increases from current leadership donors.


  • Schultz & Williams Consultant Brooke Buchanan participated on a panel of annual giving professionals at the 2018 National Conference of CASE/NAIS (Council for the Advancement of Education and National Association of Independent Schools) in Anaheim, CA. The session, titled Annual Fund 101 Speed Networking, was designed to provide participants with a high-level overview of the most important elements of an annual giving program.