This Marketing Matter comes from Donna Moss, principal at Cathedral School in Raleigh, North Carolina. It’s a way to build your grade school’s alumni base NOW, rather than searching for old rosters and creating a huge database project of people that haven’t been in contact with your school for quite some time. Worse yet, perhaps your school is a merged school…two or three schools merged into one, and given a new name. Indeed, “Where two or three are gathered in My name, there I am in their midst” certainly holds true for school mergers, but if the new school contacts the alumni of the previous schools, there may be feelings of resentment or anger in those alumni that make your appeal letter land in a place along side the credit card offers, a sample packet of ranch dressing mix, and holiday sale catalogs and postcards.

Donna suggests holding a yearly event – perhaps in May or June – to honor your most recent alumni from every fourth previous year. For instance, it your school is a K-8, when the 8th grade of 17-18 graduate, have a celebration that honors not only your current eighth graders, but your eighth graders from four years ago (13-14) who will be graduating high school this year. You can also invite your graduates from your class of 2010 since they’ll be graduating college this year. Think of it as a new type of commencement – not only are you celebrating the achievements of your most current graduates, you are commencing on a new way to maintain the relationship between your graduates and your school. Not only does such an event build your potential donor base, it builds your school’s commitment to its community.

Perhaps have one person from each class give a reflection on what their experience at your school meant to them, and recognize those who are graduating with academic honors, service commendations or other achievements and scholarships. And, most definitely, include their parents and guardians.

Why is this important? My high school graduating class (a Catholic school with 174 grads) counts among its graduates a Tony-award winning composer, a West-coast music performer and critic, the president of a major pharmaceutical company, and the president of a National Hockey League team.

Who will your graduates grow up to be?

Over the Christmas break, prayerfully consider this type of event for your school, and if you decide to move forward with it, it can be promoted throughout the coming months!

Keep waiting…joyfully….

© Michael V. Ziemski, SchoolAdvancement, 2007-2017 (Original publication date: 20071217)