Devising Effective Income Generation Strategies within Academies

I was recently delighted to deliver a presentation on income generation strategies for academies as part of the Academies Finance Conference 2018. I have summarised the key parts of my talk below. If you’d like to access the presentation slides, you’ll find details at the bottom of this post.

The Inside Government team provided me with the perfect opportunity to showcase our insight for those working in, and for, the education sector as they convened to tackle one of the biggest challenges facing schools.

This year, I assembled with 250 others to consider how academies can best deliver outstanding financial management while driving greater efficiency and value for money across the structure of a Trust.

My talk focused on methods for devising an effective income generation and fundraising strategy within an academy. In it, I highlighted three key actions for academies looking to improve their income generation methods:

1. Commit

The first thing any trust, academy, or school looking to develop an income generation strategy should do is commit to taking sustained action. There are many fundraising activities available, including:

  • Seeking donations and sponsorship.
  • Running clubs and events.
  • Providing services and lettings.
  • Applying for grants.
  • Selling gifts and products.

These activities can be undertaken even by schools with modest resources. I have also witnessed and supported more ambitious, commercially enterprising versions of these activities, resulting in substantially increased turnover per year.

Schools often fall prey to a working culture that prioritises urgent tasks over important ones, which can make the effort of income generation — such as marketing their offerings to the wider community — difficult to sustain over time.

To avoid this, your school must reflect on what value it can realistically offer stakeholders through its income generation strategy, and devise an efficient yet effective process for regularly communicating that value both internally and externally.

2. Communicate

Quality communication is Eduprise’s bread and butter, making this a perhaps unsurprising entry — but what might surprise you is just how much quality communication intersects with an income generation strategy, and how pivotal the former is in the success of the latter.

Once your academy has identified the most appropriate income generation activities for its circumstances, it is essential to plan and deliver high-quality, consistent communications designed to drive stakeholder engagement with those activities.

These should convey the value of your school, demonstrate its vision and goals, and describe the projects engagement with these activities will support.

Most importantly, they should provide a clear call to action for stakeholders looking to help realise those projects, and achieve the goals that contribute to the vision of your organisation. This golden thread of strategy to task is how great leaders inspire action.

If it isn’t already, your academy should be thinking about:

  • The 7 principles of constructing good communication.
  • Preparing an ongoing editorial calendar of content across all available communication channels.
  • Establishing a real, positive presence on social media through frequent stakeholder engagement.
  • Implementing clear processes for identifying and sharing good news stories that demonstrate the value of the school.

3. Collaborate

When putting an income generation strategy into practice, your academy should view its stakeholders as not just an audience for communication, but willing collaborators.

15.2 million people volunteer at least once a month in the UK. The community surrounding your school is a potentially enormous source of collaborative effort. To tap into this resource, your school needs to:

  • Identify your stakeholders through personas and profiling exercises.
  • Empower stakeholders to promote your school with a pass-along message.
  • Maintain accurate contact details, marketing preferences, and notes.
  • Establish where your stakeholders see value, and where they experience frustration, so you know how best to engage them around your school vision.

Grab the Slides

At Eduprise, we consult with schools across the UK about all of the activities and strategies covered in this post. If you’d like to read more, feel free to contact us for a free copy of the slide notes.