November: The Importance of the Invitation…and Giving “Thanks”

A national company that works to assist schools and churches with their Development and Stewardship efforts defines Development like this:

Development is the meaningful involvement of people in your institution’s mission and vision for the future.

Many schools have a pretty good idea of what their “mission” is, but here’s an example of how transformative a “compelling vision” can be. Every May in the high school marching band program my wife and I are involved with, we attend an event called “The Unveiling.” Parents, band alumni, members of the school, the community and “Friends of the Band” are invited to the high school auditorium on a Tuesday night near the middle of the month. Since it’s a competitive band program, the theme of the upcoming marching band season’s show is not only announced, but the music is previewed through a synthesized rendering, the instructional staff is introduced, the schedule through the summer and fall is distributed and the logo for the show is “unveiled.” While “The Unveiling” generates excitement throughout the community, enthusiasm also touches competitive band programs across the country through social media. All involved experience the excitement as it grows from week to week as the vision becomes reality, culminating in competitive performances, and ending with the state championships in November.

Your homework assignment? As Scripture states, “Go and do likewise!”

But how do you do that for your school?

We must remember to continue to invite people to be a part of the mission and share in the vision, and not expect that they’ll just tag along. Students must encourage their friends that may be in other schools to join them; parents must invite other parents to be a part of the school community; alumni must invite alumni to continue ensure that the experience of your school continues for the next generation of students.

Invitations prepared and sent through email or the US mail work (and today, email works better than snail mail does for some events), but the most effective type of invitation is the “personal ask.” It holds true for concerts, performances, sporting events and special evenings at your school.  It’s even better when the invitation includes a personal commitment of support, as in, “We’re going to the ‘Night in Hawaii’ dinner at All Saints School – why don’t you come along with us!” Examples abound – from the apostles of Jesus who were personally invited to follow Him, to the Scarecrow, Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion who were personally invited to tag along to visit Oz with Dorothy (by that way, those 5 individuals represent the 5 elements of the complete person).

Individuals must be personally invited and supported as a first step to their meaningful involvement with your school. It’s how the tradition continues, and, eventually, becomes its legacy.

And when people get involved, remember to thank them.  Not just this month, but constantly.

Next month: Transition, and how values play a vital role in determining what changes, and what remains the same.

© Michael V. Ziemski, SchoolAdvancement, 2010-2016