2020 has provided significant challenges for the education sector, impacting independent schools in Australia and New Zealand
|29 Sep 2020|
|Building Your Community|
In September, Educate Plus released their Covid Fundraising Impact Research 2020 Report, which explored the impact of recent events on development programmes, staffing and budget decisions for Australian and New Zealand schools. 2020 has yielded significant challenges, not only from the COVID-19 pandemic but from the bushfires and drought that the southern hemisphere has dealt with, and independent school development programmes must now tackle financial and operational problems.
Many schools have adapted their outreach to supporters in light of recent events, with two thirds of schools focusing on financial aid for currently enrolled students. Most messaging has been modified with a softer approach that offers sensitive invitations, and ensures giving messages are focused on supporting students. In addition to updating their messaging, they have also changed the way that they interact with supporters, with a host of virtual webinars, reunions and increased email marketing used to stay in touch.
While some would be cautious of trying new things during such a turbulent time, many schools are doing the opposite and are taking the opportunity to try new ideas. There has been a significant increase in using online and digital technology to reach out to their community, with a focus on innovation in events.
Boarding/day schools were less likely to report expectations for budget cuts, and were more likely to have their development teams back in the office (prior to the July Victoria lockdown). In addition, day/boarding schools were more likely to be able to provide financial assistance for their current students, with day/boarding schools experiencing an increase of 2% in philanthropic income (year-on-year), compared to the 20% decrease experienced by day schools.
With many families facing hardship as a result of the economic downturn, there is an increased focus on scholarship bursaries, with 60% of schools to focus 2021 fundraising on scholarship or bursary support for future students. More than half of schools (52%) are conducting an amended annual fund program this year, including a fee assistance type appeal ask.
While there have been significant challenges, particularly with resources and income, many Australian and New Zealand independent schools still look to a brighter philanthropic outlook for 2021, and have been able to keep staffing levels consistent so far. They have fared better than their US counterparts: in comparison, over half of US schools expect to have a reduction in philanthropic income in 2021, and 54% also expect budget reductions.
To read the full report from Educate Plus, click here.
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