Do you want to plug a funding gap for a project, or make development part of what you do, forever?
If it’s the former, you might just make it with some sleight of hand and a following wind. And, in the short term, everyone could feel that you’ve saved your school a ton of hassle, because isn’t full-on development a resource-hungry activity really only worth it for the big boys?
Well, it depends how you look at it. For a start, we are talking about ‘development’ here, not fundraising. It’s a term that is bandied about, but people seldom pause to examine quite what they mean by it. Fundraising is about asking people for money; development is long term and it’s about treating donors as individuals, each with a unique relationship with your school.
But the problem with even a more discerning answer to this question is that there is still a danger that the development function in your school is just treated as a bolt-on. Yet, if you want your development (let’s call it that) to flourish, then you need to take a step back and look at the whole way you interact with your stakeholders and get enthusiastic about total quality across the board, not just in your Development Office. Because this is what will make development really successful.
Clarity, style, attention to detail, thoughtfulness, consistency, co-ordination… these things will set you apart. They won’t just mean more donations: they will mean a better business.
What does all of this mean in practice? It means joined-up thinking: marketing, communications, development, alumni-relations all working together and with genuine input from senior management level.
So, getting development flourishing should be a spur for total quality in your external relations, not just a bolt-on answer to a funding shortfall.