Top Takeaways from CCAE’s Independent Schools Summit 2019
By Calina Franz-Hernandez | January 31, 2019
Advancement and development teams are the driving force behind family engagement, fundraising, and building connection to the school all year round. To start off the year, myself and Mel Adams, Account Executive at Vidigami, collaborated with the Canadian Council for the Advancement of Education (CCAE) as the official Media Management Partner, launching a dedicated portal to share photos and videos taken at the Independent Schools Summit in Victoria, BC. It was a fantastic opportunity to connect with our schools from Canada, and hear about how media is evolving for advancement teams.
Here are some of our top takeaways:
As part of the summit, we had the chance to visit some leading private schools in the area, such as Glenlyon Norfolk School (one of our Vidigami Pros!), Brookes Westshore, Brentwood College School, and Shawnigan Lake School. A huge trend this year is the growing importance of incorporating Digital Citizenship into the curriculum, with the goal of educating students and parents on how to protect themselves and others in the digital landscape. Technology isn’t going anywhere, and every day, we are hearing something new around data privacy and security. New laws are constantly emerging as well. Rather than hiding the potential online dangers from students, schools must strive to educate them. As they grow, they will take those best practices with them.
Day 1 of Summit
Be the donor’s best friend to make them feel connected to the school and the cause.
Day 1 was filled with great conversations around building relationships, driving donations, and boosting involvement. A key consideration is maintaining engagement over the long run. It is incredible how projects can easily span over the course of 3 to 4 years. Engagement is critical and it takes time. After touching base with some of our championing schools, we were thrilled to hear how Vidigami can be there to make those projects easier than ever! Here are a few strategies that sounded very familiar:
- Create a sense of nostalgia during visits to the Principal’s office with a quick gallery of great photos.
- Film a ‘Thank You’ (not just ‘Thanks!‘) video from your students to donors to show the difference their gift has made.
- Empower the entire community to contribute to a cause. Try crowdsourcing media to create an authentic and meaningful message. You want people to get involved, not just donate. Get them to volunteer!
Day 2 of Summit
Digging deeper…from ‘Thank You’ letters, transactions, and receipts, there are so many other creative ways to show appreciation to your donors. Media can do great things here!
- Make online transactions quick, easy, and rewarding by using videos or photos with a strong communication presence.
- Send a video package instead (i.e. check out the Thankview application – where one can record and send in a video message, and recipients can record and send back a reply).
- Impact reports – Show a day-in-the-life of a student. Donor students can write blogs and make short videos and linking this content in your correspondence and sending quarterly updates on their stories.
- Audiences can be content creators too! Back on the topic of crowdsourcing…get people to share simple, but powerful stories on why they donate.
We also loved hearing from Lynne Wester, Founder at Donor Relations Guru. Her session on social media offered so much insight into the value of platforms we use every day, and leveraging them in the best way possible. Schools need social channels like Instagram and Facebook to share stories. What’s more, social media does not need to fall to the youngest person in the office! Put together a team that involves multiple people across campus, have a solid calendar, and show some personality on social media! Try using:
- User Generated content – this is something you need to have more of an impact.
- Video. This is powerful, and the more real it is, the better! Quality is not a concern – it doesn’t have to be a masterpiece, as long as it is authentic and dynamic. (We loved the video the Vidigami Pros at Balmoral Hall made to inspire their girls!)
If there was one thing we learned from the summit, it is to align your culture with your strategy. Action is inspired by emotion, and communication that is designed for everyone – works for no one! We loved connecting with everyone at CCAE and looking forward to meeting familiar faces in the many other events to come!
P.S. Here’s a slideshow of some of the awesome moments captured at the summit!
About Calina Franz-Hernandez: Calina is one of the Client Success Specialists working with Vidigami schools to get set up, trained, and making the most out of Vidigami.