“How can I help you?”

We hear that phrase routinely today in our service-oriented society. We hear it (or some type of question offering assistance) so frequently, in fact, that we’ve got an automatic “No thanks, just looking” response programmed into our mnemonic playback machine.

The danger is that when someone genuinely comes along and offers you genuine assistance, there may not be another prepared response that knows exactly what you or your school needs.

In our conversations at meetings, however, every now and then, someone from the school staff will say, “If only we had a the ability to buy each of the students an iPad.”

That should be your cue to write it down. Keep track of more things that are needed, and you’ve created a Wish List for your school.

Sometimes, businesses can’t offer you the financial resources to get what you need, but, for instance, if your meeting room needs a table and chairs, and one of your parents owns a furniture store, perhaps they’d be willing to donate one of last year’s floor models when it goes on sale at the end of the season.

Two quick tangents, proving that when you know what you want, and you have the opportunity to reach the right people, wonders never cease:

1) At a school’s annual dinner in Ohio, a short speech was made by the principal who spoke to the new standards that the school would need to aspire to.  It was followed by a presentation by the business manager about the plans that the school had to increase technology presence.  The pastor then asked the people there to considering supporting their “iPad for Every Student” initiative.  The result – $60,000 in pledges.

2) A school in West Virginia shared plans with its school community about needed updates in the form of new windows which would be more energy efficient.  Before the evening was out, an attendee approached the principal of the school with an envelope.  Inside was a significant gift to offset the anticipated expenditure.

Letting people know what your school needs engages them, bringing them into the vision you have for the school.  In the above two examples, donors were moved to fund a significant part of the vision the leader set forth because it wasn’t just the first time they heard about the vision for the school and the plans necessary to achieve it.  One can’t just come up with something this significant off the cuff, and expect it will be enthusiastically and significantly supported.

Sharing the vision is important.  As it says in Proverbs, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” (29:18)

Publish your school’s wishlist as part of your parent’s and community’s newsletters too.  There should be different newsletters for different constituency groups (but that’s another topic). Keep the list on your desk, in your pocket, at the front desk and well as with every member of your administrative team and staff, your Pastor and your school’s advisory board.

© Michael V. Ziemski, SchoolAdvancement, 2007-2022 (Original Publication Date: 20070916)