Strategic development, meticulous planning and mentoring for a major fundraising appeal
Natasha Gaudin, Head of Business Development for the Beaulieu Foundation, Beaulieu Convent School in Jersey, talks about working on a significant fundraising initiative with Craigmyle Fundraising Consultants. Geoff Howard, accredited Craigmyle Fundraising Consultant, spent just under two years working with Natasha (Tasha) and the Beaulieu Foundation on developing and implementing their 2014 Campus Development Appeal which raised just over £520,000.
Founded by the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception in 1951, for the first seventy years Beaulieu School grew organically into a thriving school and continues to do so today. The Beaulieu Foundation was launched in 2007 as an independent trust to support the future capital development of the School, taking a more holistic and planned approach. A master plan was developed which outlined the wish list for the School to both future proof and make the School sustainable for the next thirty or so years in terms of buildings and facilities.
In 2011, Tasha was appointed Head of the Beaulieu Foundation and she recalls that the school had been talking about the need for fundraising and an appeal for over five years and she knew her task was to turn the wish list into a fundraising reality. Tasha’s background is marketing and she is the first to admit she didn’t have a lot of fundraising experience.
Wendy Foreman had a chat with Tasha recently about her experiences of working with Geoff.
How did you come across Craigmyle Consultants?
Victoria College, one of the boys’ schools in Jersey, had worked with Craigmyle Consultants previously and one of the governors recommended them to us. I needed to start fundraising in earnest, so, with the blessing of my Foundation Trustees, I immediately got in touch with Geoff and invited him to tender for the project. At the time, I worked on my own in the Foundation and could not have done it without Geoff. Geoff started working with me on the Campus Development Appeal, which was kicked off in 2014 and ran for two years, raising £520,000. This got the ball rolling and enabled us to seek talks with the Government of Jersey about securing a loan for future campus development work, which we secured. This year we have put in for two Fiscal Stimulus bids (post the pandemic) for installing lifts in our main building to improve accessibility and also a new sports centre. At the time of writing, we have just had confirmation that our bid for £1.5m to carry out the enabling works for our new Sports Centre has been successful. This means our Sports Centre dreams can now become a reality.
What were you looking for in a fundraising consultant?
I was looking for someone with tons of experience and who would be patient with me, as I was on my own and Geoff was empathetic to the fact I was learning – this area of fundraising was all new to me. I also needed someone who understood the unique challenges in Jersey and was open to the nuances of the situation here.
What was Geoff’s role?
Geoff offered clear strategic advice and planning for the project, advising on the development of the Campus Development Appeal. Geoff worked with me to develop a clear rationale for fundraising and the phasing of the campus development, as well as the various ways to give. He also provided practical advice on all aspects of implementation – from setting up the Foundation Appeal Committee and preparing an Appeal Brochure, to detailed Appeal Reception planning. He provided mentoring and very useful structures and templates for the campaign. Geoff provided lots of other examples and that got our creative juices flowing. His contribution was enormous and built my confidence, enabling me to reach out for support to all members of Beaulieu’s extended family, including parents, past parents, former pupils etc.
We held a number of lovely fundraising face to face get-togethers and, with Geoff’s support, these were planned very carefully. Some elements are obvious but others less. I presented at these events, which was very nerve-wracking, but Geoff coached me for these and I had an outline script. The level of detailed planning was phenomenal. By the time I stood up at my first event I felt fully confident in what I was saying and how to be clear and get to the point about raising money in a straightforward way.
Also, Geoff was clear about fundraising leaders and the need for those asking for money to give themselves. I am a past pupil at the school and my little girl is now a pupil. I am 100% committed to what the Foundation is doing and I myself made a donation, which made it easier to ask others and I felt more confident in these approaches.
Has working with Geoff met your expectations?
I have been delighted to work with Geoff and my expectations were more than met. It is the first time the School has worked with fundraising consultants and we could never have raised that amount of money on our own without his expertise and knowledge.
Did working with Geoff make your life easier?
I laugh when I hear this question because actually my life was a lot harder! With Geoff’s strategic advice and planning, we were finally able to really get going on our campaign and get on with something we had been talking about for five years. It was very hard work and there are no short cuts. But of course, I was able to do this and my confidence grew because I was working with Geoff and it was all planned and followed a clear process. So yes, it provided me with reassurance and confidence. Geoff was always available at the end of the phone. He was organised and logistical and calm when things occasionally went array. Geoff provided me with a consistent sounding board. I was able to discuss any worries or concerns if and when they arose.
It was great working with Geoff, who is a real character and has a great sense of humour.
In a few words how would you describe Geoff’s approach?
Logical, intuitive, thorough, patient and empathetic. Geoff grasped very quickly the environment we were working in and recognised the need for sensitivity when asking for money. He often sat in on committee meetings and while I led, he was very good at clarifying and confirming the process we needed to follow, when required. Much of the work seems obvious, but it was very useful for Geoff to prompt.
Has the pandemic had an impact on your fundraising?
Yes, absolutely, but we were in a fallow period in terms of fundraising when the pandemic began. I was about to prepare and distribute a booklet to our donors showing what had been achieved and encouraging them to consider renewing their pledges which were coming to an end. But I felt that during the pandemic was not the right time to do this, so the plans were put on hold.
What next for Beaulieu Convent School?
As we have had confirmation of our £1.5m fiscal stimulus bid, we are now in the process of beginning the enabling works to allow us to build our new Sports Centre. Fundraising in the future may focus on helping to furnish the fitness studio included in the Centre.
I have built up fundraising skills and knowledge working with Geoff, but if we decide to undertake substantial fundraising in the future, I will definitely get Geoff involved again. He would always be my first point of call for fundraising advice.
A huge thank you to Tasha for her time and for sharing her thoughts about working with Craigmyle Fundraising Consultants. We wish Tasha and all at Beaulieu Convent School the very best for the future. Find out more about Beaulieu Convent School here.
For more about Craigmyle Consultants and our approach visit https://www.craigmyle.org.uk/what-we-do/our-approach/