What Success Requires

If a parochial school is going to be sustainably, it must be unique, provide real value, and be economically sound.

Those three attributes create several benefits:

Uniqueness – Uniqueness provides your stakeholders (students, families, donors, referral sources, advocates, staff members, and others) with the information they need to explain why they support your parochial school. Uniqueness makes it easy for everyone to have a compelling reason to support your school besides low tuition, good location, or achievement scores.

Value – Value is what the students, families, donors, and community see as the benefit you offer. Value justifies the tuition, provides a return on the investment to the donors, and motivates the community to provide support in the form of referrals, advocacy, and other support activities.

Strength – Financial strength (tuition income and donor support) provides your stakeholders with the confidence that your Christian school will continue its good work for many years to come.

When all three are present, it is easy to maximize the relationship you have with each of your stakeholders. Donors will be generous because they know that your school is the only one (unique) their interested in supporting. The donors will be confident that their gift provides a substantial return in lives changed (value). The donors will have confidence that their entire gift will serve the children and families (none of the funds will be needed to handle a financial crisis) and that good stewardship is a hallmark of the school’s leadership. Families make their enrollment and re-enrollment (retention) decisions the same way that donors decide who to support and how generously. The same is true for volunteers, advocates, and referral sources.

Sustainability requires constant vigilance and evolution. The attributes of sustainability are always being copied. When another school notices your uniqueness, they will attempt to copy it in hopes of capturing some of your families. When another school notices your value, they will try to offer the same value. Everyone is already trying to create financial strength for their organization.

Next Step:

Determine the relative strength of your school in each of the preceding areas (Uniqueness, Value, and Strength)

Determine the best strategy for increasing the sustainability of your school

Determine which stakeholder group is most likely to provide support for strengthening your school

Develop a plan for engaging support from the selected stakeholder group

Sample strategies for increasing sustainability:

Increase financial strength with the goal of having the funds needed to add value to the programming and raise the level of uniqueness

Increase the value of your programming (enhance existing programming or add new programming) to increase enrollment and retention which will increase financial strength (tuition income and donor support) and provide the resources to create a higher level of uniqueness

Raise the level of uniqueness to increase visibility and interest, which increases enrollment and financial strength (tuition income and donor support) and provides the resources necessary to add value to the programming

The area that is easiest, quickest, and least expensive to change is usually uniqueness. However, when you succeed at attracting attention you must have compelling value or the added attention will result in a damaged reputation. Without compelling value, the prospects (donors, clients, advocate, volunteers, and referral sources) will feel like it is a lot of sizzle for very little steak.

Therefore, only choose one strategy.


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