in this era of anticipated new commercials, changing tag lines, and rebranding as determined by the marketplace, there are still a few slogans that have been in use for at least the past fifteen years!  Capital One has one of the most memorable series of advertising campaigns today, where each commercial ends with the question, “What’s in your wallet?”  I’m sure many of us may respond, “Not much.”

For this week’s Marketing Matter, let’s take “What’s in Your Wallet,” and change it up a little to “Who’s on Your Mailing List?”

While marketing to parents of prospective students leads to enrollment, the other constituencies of your school must also be marketed to.  And, since marketing is education, the students in your school aren’t the only ones that must be educated.

Your potential donors must also be educated, in addition to the current donors who support your school.

That not only includes those individuals who may give you a major gift, but foundations that award grant monies must be aware of your school’s accomplishments!

If you’ve tried your hand at writing a grant, you’ve probably found out that much of the hard work begins after the grant has been written (which is a daunting task in itself). That work involves “shopping it around” to various foundations that may be open to your project. This is where networking becomes VERY important, as people you know on foundation boards will be the ones that will advance your proposal and advocate for its funding when the board reviews the proposals.

If you’re able to have a FADICA Funding Guide resource (available from you’ll find many foundations that have the potential for funding your project.

However, you’ll also find that many of those organizations do not take requests to fund projects.

So, how do they pick what they’ll fund?

Perhaps you should add these foundations to your mailing list, rather than just asking them for money.

Remember – Connection first; relationship second; engagement third, commitment fourth, renewal fifth.

Money for your project is step 4.

Identify the foundations and organizations that would be likely to fund your project, and send them a positive, “spotlight on the achievements and the kids” eNewsletter.

You’re you’re not asking the organization for funding…you’re telling them your school’s story, and letting them know what’s going on at your school.  They can’t ask you to submit a proposal for a potential gift they’d like to give you if they not aware of your school’s “remarkability!”

In the commercial world of sales, this is called, “Providing Value First.”  Sales professionals can’t just go and ask for business anymore.  A relationship must first be developed, and that’s begun by the sales professional offering something of value first – an idea, a white paper, or perhaps even a book – and expecting nothing in return.

Lots of people purge mailing lists in order to save on postage, paper and printing. A decade ago, I mentioned this is why it makes sense to use a service to provide an eNewsletter, such as Constant Contact ( or MailChimp ( Now, there’s quite a few more of these services available, like Email Octopus ( and MailerLite (  Speaking of, I’m creating a new eNewsletter on MailerLite since Outstand, the service I used for over 10 years, was sunsetting this past August.

By using these services, you can add a bit of coding to your Web site so that visitors can automatically sign up to be placed on your mailing list, and they can manage their own subscription preferences. The great thing is that you can track all that information to see who’s opened your email, and who’s clicked on a link to get to more information (which should be housed on your school’s Web site).  You can’t do that when you mail it to them and spend 66 cents on a stamp for each one.

Just to show how fast times are changing, though, there’s a school of thought that surfaced 5 years ago contending that people don’t read eNewsletters anymore either!

With the deluge of material that’s available today on the Internet and through email, people are looking for ways to purge without reading.  If you agree with this statement, you now know why a mix of social media is important today!  Your message need to be distributed via at least 5 different social media channels – Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram and email (I no longer recommend Twitter since it’s become a platform for argumentation) and they all need to connect back to your Web site.

If you still want to publish something in paper, make it your annual report – substantial, color, nice paper, gloss finish.  Think “professional publication.”  If you’re thinking you can’t afford that, it’s better not to have it than to create something that conveys the message, “Hey, we’re cutting back on costs, so we’re doing an all-text newsletter and we’ll copy it on inexpensive 20# paper.”


Your publications, just like your school’s Web site, are a reflection of your school, and if you’re going to say you’re the best choice for parents to education their children, then your paper publications can’t look second rate – especially if you’re charging parents a tuition that has four or five figures.

© Michael V. Ziemski, SchoolAdvancement, 2009-2024 (Original Publication Date: 20090223)