Donovan Group Insights

State Your Intent When You Ask for Help

The community is an incredible source of help for your schools. You might need the community’s help for a number of reasons—passing a referendum, volunteering at events or donating to a school program. Knowing your schools need help is one thing. Gathering that help is another.

District leaders can rally the community’s support by stating why they need help and how stakeholders will benefit in the long run.

Make the “why” clear to stakeholders

District leaders need to go beyond simply asking for help. When you reach out to community members, they need to understand why you’re asking for help. Community members will be more eager to support your district when they believe it’s worth their while. If they’re going to invest their time and energy—possibly even their money—they’ll want a good reason for it.

Make it clear that the community’s help is going toward a good cause. For example, one of your schools might need volunteers to help run a charitable event. When you make an open call for volunteers, explain why the school is raising money and who will benefit from it.

Referendums are another common reason to ask for the community’s help. Educate stakeholders about the proposed action and why they should vote in favor of it. Let them know that passing a referendum is a community effort, and the district needs everyone’s support to bring the proposed action into reality.

Emphasize the community benefits

Highly involved stakeholders have more of an incentive to help the district. Students, staff and parents reap the most benefits because they attend the schools, work at the schools and have children in the schools. Community members have a less obvious connection to the schools, so district leaders need to emphasize how these stakeholders would personally benefit from helping out.

For instance, you could encourage community members to support your high school’s STEM program by saying their donations will provide a better education for our future scientists, researchers and innovators. Volunteering at events like After Prom provides fun, supervised activities that keep students and the surrounding community safe late at night. The main message is this: when the community helps, the community benefits.

When you ask for help, the key is to remain transparent. Make it clear why you’re asking for help and how community members can benefit from their own support. Stakeholders should know that helping schools doesn’t just help students, staff and parents. The broader community has much to gain from it, too.

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