Independent Schools Summit

Presenting Partner:
Ross Marsh Consulting

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Opening Panel Discussion: COVID-19, through challenges emerge Silver Linings
Shelley Huxley, Director of Development, Ridley College
John Lynch, Executive Director of External Relations, Crescent School
Nancy Smith, Director of Advancement, Lower Canada College
Moderator: Brent Johnston, Executive Director, Advancement, The Country Day School

When the pandemic hit, many advancement leaders felt the weight of concerns of how to move forward with daily tasks & normal in-person processes. Staff were drastically affected with many finding themselves in new work from home scenarios, that left many feeling isolated professionally and personally.

However, over-coming the new state of the world has brought an intense amount of innovation. Beyond concerns of overwhelming alumni and families with valid sensitivities, advancement professionals took a hold of these challenges and provided more personal, more heartfelt and more authentic ways to connect that will last far into the future regardless of the growing virtual world.

  • Managing staff, professionally and personally
  • Pivoting from strategy to a sole focus on student support
  • Advancement taking a side seat to preparations around family
  • How innovations and new ideas are shaping the outcomes of connections through the pandemic
  • How advancement teams faced the realities of COVID and making connections
  • Providing assistance for families financially, technologically & personally
  • Hard conversations. Are they being had openly? With staff? Behind closed doors?

Shelley Huxley
Shelley Huxley

John Lynch
John Lynch

Nancy Smith
Nancy Smith

Brent Johnston
Brent Johnston

Jennifer Shaw
Jennifer Shaw

Heather Strickey
Heather Strickey

The Fideliter Fund: The Mini-Campaign within the Campaign
Jennifer Shaw, Advancement and Alumni Officer, King's-Edgehill School
Heather Strickey, Director of Advancement and Alumni Relations, King's-Edgehill School

It’s probably pretty accurate to write that most of us working in Advancement Departments of Canadian Independent Schools were a bit “unprepared” when COVID-19 forced many of us into “working from home” situations. With many changes taking place so quickly, many of us were hesitant to approach our donors and ask for a gift when a plethora of our supporters were worried about the state of their businesses and investments.

The KES Advancement Department looked hard at what the real needs of the School would be in the near future. The Advancement office turned its Annual Giving Campaign from raising funds for an 8 lane running track to soliciting immediate financial aid to allow current students the ability to return for the Fall of 2020. The goal was set and then exceeded through a series of formal asks, matching gifts, and brilliant communications to all constituents.

  • Being willing to change your campaign once it has started
  • Being willing to move outside your comfort zone, “Fear of the Ask”
  • Being willing to learn from what others have done well

Zahra Valani
Zahra Valani

From the Inside Out: Enhancing College Advancement by Streamlining Marketing and Communications
Zahra Valani, Director of Advancement & Communications, Hillfield Strathallan College

In the ever-increasingly competitive world of fundraising, it’s critical to not only understand the voice of your institution but to secure a share of that voice for strategic and consistent advancement messaging. Being heard above the drum of wider communications starts from within. With a clearly articulated marketing and messaging framework, you can streamline internal communications and create alignment across all departments, so nobody needs to jockey for the position.

  • Have a strong advancement representation in your comprehensive communications/marketing plan
  • The importance of consistent messaging in your marketing and advancement materials
  • Streamline internal communications and create alignment across all departments

Lara Unsworth
Lara Unsworth

Making connections and meeting targets in a new world
Lara Unsworth, Director of Strategic Enrollment Management and Communications, Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School

Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School (STS) is Alberta’s only K-12, full IB (International Baccalaureate), co-ed day school developing well-balanced students for a life of purpose by inspiring excellence in scholarship, leadership and character. Our school’s top differentiators are our strong sense of community, our beautiful 220-acre country campus and state-of-the-art facilities, and our IB program which encourages students to embrace challenges with curiosity and intent. Traditionally all of these have been celebrated, marketed, and enhanced through a communications and marketing strategy that relayed heavily on in-person engagement to “seal the deal” – until the COVID-19 pandemic hit. To meet enrollment targets, and continue to maintain and build a strong and vibrant STS community relations program, we needed to pivot – and quickly.

They say, through crisis comes innovation, and despite working in a completely different world, we continue to have an engaged and committed community of parents, alumni and donors, and our enrollment increased for the 2020-2021 academic year.

With an all-hands-on-deck collaborative mindset between our marketing, communications, enrollment and advancement teams, combined with the courage to be innovative and take risks, and a drive to make an impact, we were able to create meaningful opportunities for connections, maintain and build relationships, and attract the attention of prospective applicant families. We would welcome the opportunity to tell our story and share lessons learned with our colleagues.

  • Engage stakeholders to meet objectives
  • Meet enrollment targets using innovative strategies
  • Maintain and build a strong and vibrant community relations program

Eliza Bianchi
Eliza Bianchi

Stephanie Young
Stephanie Young

Rebuilding the pipeline: data driven prospect identification
Eliza Bianchi, Associate Director of Development, Ashbury College
Stephanie Young, Director of Development, Ashbury College

As we wrap up our capital campaign, we need to identify new prospects and start cultivating them. We will discuss how Ashbury used enrollment and annual giving campaigns, and how these can help with their impact on database clean up

  • Identify ways we can identify new prospects after a capital campaign
  • Discuss ideas for database cleanup
  • Use enrollment giving and annual giving campaigns to identify prospects

Innovative usage of technology (three 20 minute presentations)

Rebecca Harrison
Rebecca Harrison

Emma Jenkin
Emma Jenkin

Tech Session 1
Beyond the Screen: Community Building Through Events in the Time of COVID
Rebecca Harrison, Alumni Advancement Officer, University of Toronto Schools
Emma Jenkin, Senior Communications Officer, University of Toronto Schools

Events need to be considered in a completely new way when taking them virtual in order to provide an engaging, exciting, and positive experience for your audience. See how UTS made use of virtual platforms as well as tangible elements to delight and connect with its community while maintaining safe physical distance.

  • Leveraging cost-effective digital tools to engage with your local and global community
  • Ways to incorporate non-virtual elements into virtual events
  • How to ensure your event is accessible and welcoming to guests of all tech levels

Ronith Cogswell
Ronith Cogswell

Tech Session 2
Ready Set Roll
Ronith Cogswell, Director of Advancement, Vancouver College

As COVID-19 health and safety guidelines continue to change with fluidity, so does the pace in which we must respond. We’re called to adapt and react while honouring the spirit of our school's programs, events, and initiatives to give our community a sense of peace and security in spite of such unpredictable times.

  • Learn creative ways to adapt annual traditions using technology in the face of COVID-19 challenges
  • Hear different ways to engage constituents by using existing technology differently
  • How to leverage communication tools to ensure consistent and accurate engagement with constituents and donors

Stephanie MacDougall
Stephanie MacDougall

Tech Session 3
So Much More Than A Zoom Call
Stephanie MacDougall, Development Communications Specialist, Cape Breton University

At the CBU Alumni Office, we relied heavily on face-to-face and in-person events for the majority of our Alumni and donor engagement activity. As our department was staffing up to increase our Alumni engagement in preparation for the launch of a capital campaign, COVID-19 had other plans. This presentation will review how seemly simple Zoom calls allowed us to reach more Alumni in an even more meaningful way. We will share how talking about everything but the pandemic allowed for more authentic and genuine conversations and outcomes.

  • Learn what CBU did when engagement events ended due to the pandemic and how one Zoom call turned into a new way of engaging
  • Discover what CBU did and didn’t do while communicating
  • Hear about how CBU made their relationships even stronger

Tina Alto
Tina Alto

Laura Edwards
Laura Edwards

A Discussion On The Subject Of The Psychology Of Asking A Donor To Give
Tina Alto, Executive Director, Balmoral Hall School
Laura Edwards, External Stakeholder

Grabbing a donor’s attention is the very first psychological step that a supporter takes during a potentially lifelong journey that they take themselves as alumnae/i, their children and/or grandchildren’s independent school

To give money, people need to then be satisfied with the ways the school treats them as supporters. They need to commit to supporting the school in such a way that the commitment itself is meaningful to them as individuals.

The psychological transformation from paying attention to giving money is the process of integrating the school from the external world into one’s most inner sense of who they are. This session will focus on how to achieve and build trust in the mind of a prospective or entry level donor, that will lead to a journey of interest, connectivity, and support of a life-long donor.

  • Help new fundraisers to understand the process of a successful call. This includes heads of school and senior administrators, as well as advancement professionals.
  • Showcase the content of a successful call , which is to serve the needs of the donor first, through active listening and empathy.  Samples submitted by participants will be used to illustrate the points.
  • Remove all fear of making a donor call and/or visit and to have the confidence and education to move the individual, foundation board or corporation from being prospect to a life-long donor.

Mira Boucher
Mira Boucher

10 Stories & 10 Lessons for Independent School Fundraisers during Covid-19
Mira Boucher, ISAP Canada Board Member & TEC Canada Chair

Join us to learn about ten stories of philanthropy and courage during Covid-19, and the important lessons these stories impart to major gifts fundraisers at independent schools. This session includes interactive small group breakouts to amplify your learning experience and provide the chance to meet other advancement professionals from across Canada.

  • Be inspired by 10 stories of philanthropy during the pandemic
  • Learn 10 valuable lessons to boost your major gifts program
  • Meet and share top learnings with advancement colleagues in small groups

Angela Dudek
Angela Dudek

Nicholas Weedon
Nicholas Weedon

Parental Controls “OFF”: Engaging with parents in an online environment
Angela Dudek, Executive Director for Advancement, CFRE. St. John's School
Nicholas Weedon, Associate Director, Advancement, St. Andrew’s College

Behind every student and alumni, is a parent and grandparent engaged in their education. COVID-19 has meant that traditional in-person methods of connecting with and engaging a student’s support system are no longer an option. Professionals from two Canadian provinces will share their tactics and strategies on engagement by using available technology and innovative ideas.

Following the presentation, presenters will field questions and lead a discussion.

  • Discuss the potential benefits of moving parent engagement to an online space.
  • Learn about different ways professionals are collaborating across teams to enhance the parent experience.
  • Be reminded that success is not always rocket science. Simple ideas and strong tactics can be easy keys to success.

Dr. Huzur Altay
Dr. Huzur Altay

Morning Keynote Presentation: Are you running on fumes? You are not the only one.
Dr. Huzur Altay, Ph.D. C.Psych., Clinical Psychologist

Almost a year into the global COVID-19 pandemic, walks and yoga have only done so much to “help us find balance” and “re-centre after a long day”. The demands on our person, both personally and professionally, are higher than ever and being asked to pivot on a dime, comes with a great cost to a person mental health and wellness.

Many are feeling tired in a way that sleep does not fix and collectively, most feel the sense of running on fumes. Dr. Altay will share how to refuel in small ways, by learning to emotionally triage, understanding the difference between sympathy, empathy, and compassion, and how to be a bit kinder to yourself.

Dr. Altay is a Registered Clinical Psychologist in private practice in Toronto, Ontario.

She received her Specialized Honours B.A. in Psychology from York University in 1984. She completed her Master of Education at the University of Toronto in 1987 and received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from York University in 1991.

Over the past 28 years, Dr. Altay has been providing consulting and psychotherapy to children, adolescents and adults with focus on treatment of anxiety disorders, depression and psychosomatic medicine. In addition, she has worked as a custody assessor and consults with elite athletes and various parenting panels.

How social, is too social? A panel on the governance, planning, and maintenance of institutional social media strategies
Isabel Brinck, Communications Coordinator, The Sacred Heart School of Montreal
Michael Dilworth, Director of Marketing & Communications Montcrest School
Kristal Gallo, Digital Communications Coordinator, Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School
Moderator: Hallie McClelland, Director of Advancement, Kingsway College School

The term “social media” and its management presents broad strokes as it relates to Institutional Marketing and Communications strategies. Beyond paper and print, an institution’s identity exists online within websites, apps and message boards that never turn off. How are professionals handling around the clock messages and engagements within these channels? How are people determining what channels, audiences and metrics are helping to guide future strategies? This panel aims to provide insight on how Institutions are handling the various aspects of planning, committing to, and executing their social media strategies.

  • Hear examples on how institutional Marketing and Communication strategies tie into its overall school communication strategies?
  • Learn ways institutions are working to serve different audiences on the same social media channels.
  • Hear examples of how institutions are working with students, faculties, and other units to amplify voices and messages.

Isabel Brinck
Isabel Brinck

Michael Dilworth
Michael Dilworth

Kristal Gallo
Kristal Gallo

Hallie McClelland
Hallie McClelland

Ross Marsh
Ross Marsh

The New Realities - Advancement in the post-COVID World
Ross Marsh, President, Ross W. Marsh Consulting Group Inc.

The current pandemic has changed the advancement landscape in a way that nothing else has ever done. There are immediate/current impacts and approaches to ensure organizations survive through this rocky time (because some won't) and there are mid-term and long-term approaches and strategies that will help ensure the sustainability and resiliency of your advancement program so that your organizations thrives in future - come what may.

  • Understanding the impact of the pandemic on donors and advancement
  • Understanding best approaches to advancement in the current environment
  • Understanding how to build a long-term, sustainable, resilient advancement program

Alumni Homecoming Sessions (two 30 minute presentations)

Amanda Camara
Amanda Camara

Darla Hooker
Darla Hooker

Alumni Session 1
Growth Hacking Engagement – A Guide to Virtual Homecoming
Amanda Camara, Director of Marketing, St. Paul’s High School
Darla Hooker, Director of Advancement, St. Paul’s High School

Self proclaimed Growth Hackers Amanda and Darla will guide you through their virtual Homecoming experience and how they engaged, delighted and inspired 15,000 alumni, students and parents. At this session you will learn how to get savvy with your resources, double down on social media and prove what you do.

  • Get creative with the resources you have available
  • Events are not the only way to engage your community (constituents)
  • Measure your engagement

Taylor Jennings
Taylor Jennings

Alumni Session 2
Virtual Alumni Reunions: Here to stay?
Taylor Jennings, Manager, Annual Giving & Constituent Engagement, Pickering College

How do you shift an event – that traditionally relies on a nostalgic return to campus – to a virtual platform?

Join in an open and honest conversation about how Pickering College moved its signature Reunion Weekend online. They will share the impact – good and bad – of making a virtual pivot, and the lessons learned as they moved from ‘reacting’ to the COVID-19 pandemic, to developing meaningful virtual experiences for their alumni. This session will explore the significance of adjusting alumni engagement tactics to maximize your resources and efforts, remain true to your event purpose, and best navigate the uncertainties that lay ahead.

  • Discover tips and key learnings from moving a signature in-person event to a virtual platform.
  • Explore ways you can leverage virtual reunions to deepen relationships with alumni year-round.
  • How to plan for alternative event options and shift your strategies as you navigate real-world changes.

Julie Davis
Julie Davis

Reconciliation, diversity and a safe space for all
Julie Davis, Vice President External Relations and Advancement, Trent University

An education institution is meant to be a place of learning, growth and exploration and a campus must be a safe place for all, for its community to thrive. Creating said safe place, means Professionals have to engage in difficult conversations around inclusion, racism, and representation. Good intentions are simply not enough.

In this session, CCAE Board Vice Chair and Advancement Leader, Julie Davis will share personal reflections and learnings on the imperative and challenges of being a leader committed to creating a diverse team, advancing reconciliation, and combatting racism. Julie and her team are currently engaged in a significant effort to advance Trent University’s relationship with local indigenous communities, and to ensure that philanthropy and alumni relations engage diverse constituents effectively.

  • Learn what challenges to anticipate in walking the road of reconciliation
  • Hear how to engage in challenging conversations about race and identity
  • Establish ways to increase your cultural competency and confidence