5 Ways Schools Can Stay Engaged Over the Summer
Alumni and parents that give generously to schools don’t simply appear overnight. A positive, giving relationship with parents and alumni is an ongoing one, that begins before a student even enters your school, and it’s never-ending.
Building that relationship starts with ongoing engagement, and one of the most important times to maintain engagement is over the summer, when school is out of session (June-August). Don’t let your relationships flounder during the off-months and keep summer engagement high!
Here are some effective tips to keep parent and alumni summer engagement high:
Get your principal (for grade schools) or president and/or dean (for institutions of higher education) to buy-in to your parent program. Ask them to be present at the informational event to speak to new and current parents. Your parent volunteers will feel like “insiders,” rather than just dollar signs when they get exclusive access to educational leaders at the school.
TIP: Active parent involvement isn’t just great for fundraising. Parent involvement in a student’s education is proven to statistically improve a student’s chances for success in school.
Recruit alumni for a career and networking event or mentorship program for current students and recent graduates.
Alumni engagement is a pipeline of support that begins before students even enter school, and continues through their educational years, to graduation and beyond. Inviting alumni to participate in the lives of current and future students is an integral part of maintaining your ongoing partnership with them: it shows their input and expertise is valued beyond just their giving potential.
Receiving career advice, mentorship, and networking assistance from older alumni also sets a great example for current students as to future involvement as alumni themselves. Recruit alumni for your alumni association before they even graduate!
And summer is the best time to do it, when graduates are pursuing new careers, and students have time-off to pursue summer internships.
Establish a parent-run “Welcoming Committee” that can reach out to parents of incoming students over the summer, before school starts.
This is key because you can engage both current parents as non-fundraising volunteers (letting them be involved without asking for money), and new parents! Plus, it starts fostering a positive relationship with new parents, all without needing staff involvement. Parents handle the relationship, and that feels more authentic because it’s peer-to-peer.
Involve alumni in teaching summer programs and talking to potential new students.
Remember that current students are the lifeblood of your school and your alumni association, and keeping alumni involved in current student life rejuvenates that school pride and affection.
Foster that affection and let alumni teach a summer program; or better, let an alumni speak to potential students and incoming students. For high school seniors looking at schools, accessing a successful alum of a potential school is a great incentive for attending.
Offer family and parent support.
Especially over the summer, it’s easy for parents and students alike to shrug off engagement with school. But it’s important to reinforce positive attitudes about school even in the off-months, and one of the best ways to do that is to offer families support during the summer, when kids are most at risk.
In grade school and secondary education, seek out community partnerships to offer summer programs, child-care, and extra-curricular educational activities, to take the burden off parents, and keep learning alive.
In higher education, take this opportunity to engage parents, and involve them in decisions being made for next year. Offer partnership opportunities to show parents that their input is valued by the school.
All of these tips are around engagement, instead of directly asking for fundraising dollars—because the more engaged your parents and alumni, the more they are likely to give when you do make the ask.