Scott Sheridan

Scott Sheridan: “It’s important that everyone can feel involved”

Scott Sheridan, Director of Development at Brighton College shares his top take-aways from the CASE for Schools Conference and discusses Brighton’s innovations and challenges.

1. What attracted you to a career in educational advancement?

I have always felt that the way to make the biggest impact on our future world, is to invest in our future potential. Fundraising in education puts us, and our supporters, at the very beginning of the story, where tomorrow’s doctors, lawyers, decision-makers, artists, academics etc. are being inspired and guided. It is extremely rewarding.

2. What would you say is the most innovative element of your development plan at Brighton College?

I would say it is the way we engage the entire school community in our fundraising efforts, whilst managing to run a substantial major gifts programme alongside. At any one time, we are raising funds for a number of projects, each very targeted through intelligent analysis of our constituent data.

For instance, right now, we are in the quiet major gift fundraising stage for a large upcoming capital project (due in three years), while publically running an alumni-focussed WW1 Centenary appeal, as well a number of small syndicate groups of parent middle-givers, supporting one-off smaller projects. It is important that everyone can feel involved, and contribute meaningfully to the school.

““Be comfortable with silence” — you cannot have truly listened to what your supporter/prospect has to say if you interrupt them, and what they have to say is the most valuable thing for a fundraiser.”

3. Which of CASE’s member benefits do you find the most useful?

I find it particularly useful to go to sessions shared with our Higher Education colleagues. There is a lot to learn from university fundraising (and vice versa), and CASE conferences and workshops provide a very good forum for this sharing of best practice.

4. What were your top 3 takeaways from the CASE for Schools Conference at Dulwich College?

  1. Ideas around how best to embed pupils graduating from overseas schools in to an existing alumni network.

2. The importance of benefit analysis and alumni feedback when forming a future engagement programme.

3. “Be comfortable with silence” — you cannot have truly listened to what your supporter/prospect has to say if you interrupt them, and what they have to say is the most valuable thing for a fundraiser.

5. What are your challenges?

It is very easy to become predominantly focussed on the search for new income. I wish I had more time and resources to increase our stewardship engagement with our existing supporters, ensuring they continue to be actively appreciated, informed and engaged.

6. What do you think will be the growth areas in Development the next 3–5 years?

Fundraising from the parent community: I think this is an area that many schools are yet to explore to its full potential.

State school fundraising: many state schools are already beginning on their fundraising journey, and it will be interesting to see how this grows.

Philanthropy online: crowdfunding, mobile donations, social media’s role in communicating our stories and building support

7. What books/websites/podcasts/etc would you recommend to colleagues in the sector?

Richer Lives: Why rich people give is a great read, as is The Generosity Network. I also love Ted Talks, and there are some great ones on philanthropy and the leadership of non-profits. If you haven’t listened to any of them yet, put an hour aside this weekend to do so.

Scott Sheridan is Director of Development at Brighton College, UK and attended the CASE for Schools Conference at Dulwich College in May 2016.

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