What Makes Your Parochial School Unique?

Being unique draws special attention to your programming and enhances the chance that donors and families will choose your parochial school. Your school may be more unique than you realize.

Being unique has significant present value as well as being an aid to sustainability. 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 Christian school. Uniqueness makes it easy for everyone to have a compelling reason for supporting your school besides low tuition, good location, or high achievement scores.

Sometimes uniqueness is seen as an attention getter like a funny hat or eccentric habit. However, that is uniqueness without substance. It may result in added attention but it will also lower the organization’s reputation when the world discovers there is minimal substance behind the uniqueness.

Here are three questions that will help you to define, discover, or shape your school’s uniqueness:

What do you believe that no one else is willing to believe?

What do you deliver that no one else is willing to deliver?

What do you promise that no one else is willing to promise?

The uniqueness of a school is most apparent and most difficult for others to copy when the answer to all three questions is essentially the same. As an example:

We believe that through the disciplined application of Christian principles any student who attends our school will become a respected leader (Belief). Our alumni are Christian leaders in almost every walk-of-life (Deliver). And, if you are accepted for admission to our school you will be a leader in life (Promise).

A school would be foolish to make that statement without having a robust leadership program. The school must also be willing to accept that many families will ignore the school because they place insufficient value on leadership to justify the tuition. However, it is easy to see that any school that makes and keeps that promise is unique and will have more than enough students to fill its classrooms.

Inevitably, some students will be turned away because the school is unable to see how it can keep its promise. Obviously, those students will need to find a school that is able to meet their needs. This creates a win-win situation. Students receive the best possible programming at both schools (the one that provides leadership development and the one that serves those whose gifts point in a different direction).

Leadership is an example. Your mission probably promises something else. Substitute whatever you mission promises for leadership in the preceding example.

Next Step:

Determine what your mission statement promises that is unique or revisit your mission statement to provide a unique promise

Determine how to shape your programming to deliver on the promise

Track your alumni so you can provide evidence that you keep your promise

Determine how to express your promise in a way that is compelling for those who want the value your beliefs offer

When you know that an organization is able to keep its promises and its promises are important, they are your first choice when selecting a service provider. In fact, most people are less concerned about the price when the promises are valued and kept.

Your school is valuable to your community. What is the promise that makes your school unique and especially valuable to the community? How can you enhance the promise to raise your uniqueness and your value?


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