From the first day of classes to graduation, parents experience their own journey with their son or daughter’s Alma Mater. Parents are often the ones who make the opportunity to have a stellar education possible. They are the ones who provide homework help, give relationship advice and show encouragement from the stands to the playing field. When they root for their children they also root for their school, and recognize the success of each as being closely intertwined.
As this relationship between parent and school develops over the years it is common, and unsurprising, for a unique emotional bond to form. The ability to effectively value and foster this bond can have a positive element for donations and community involvement for alumni offices.
Before students graduate parents can help participate in the annual fund. As examined by the Community Counseling Services Company in an article last Fall, parental participation in the annual fund can be challenging, but showing parents the institution’s need helps substantially. It is vital for parents to recognize that institutions often operate beyond tuition, and in particular, the specific capital projects in need. Parental endorsement of the annual fund builds early on a potentially life-long donation history.
The CCS further suggests for alumni relations and development offices to utilize grassroots efforts, citing that once a parent donates to the annual fund and is recognized, they should also be offered the chance to volunteer for further parental community involvement. These initiatives can be incorporated into other elements of other typical parental committees, such as athletic or community service committees.
Once a student graduates and, perhaps, a parent is left in their “empty nest”, alumni offices can also establish programs to keep their parents engaged with their son or daughter’s Alma Mater.
One excellent example of such a program is at the Ransom Everglades School in Coconut Grove, Florida. Entitled RE PALS (Ransom Everglades Parents of Alumni), the program encourages parents of past students to come together to continue their relationship with the parents of their children’s peers and with the school itself.
Does your school, or a school you know, have a parental program that you think is exceptional? Tell us about it!