Welcome to the second edition of Boost Shorts, where we ask an advancement all-star a few questions about fundraising, annual giving, leadership giving, and so much more.
Today, we’re talking to Kate Fiscus, the Annual Fund Director at Regis High School in Manhattan. We talked to her about a ton of exciting advancement topics, from ways to encourage alumni participation, giving challenges and leaderboards, and how to gel as a new advancement team.
Want to see firsthand how leaderboards and challenges can energize your constituents? Click here to learn more about how Boost can help your school engage better with all of your donors and potential donors?
Note: This transcript has been edited for readability.
I’m Kate Fiscus, Annual Fund Director at Regis High School in New York. I’ve been with Regis for over one year now. I’ve previously worked at three other independent schools in New York City, all within their advancement and alumni offices.
I’m excited to be at Regis, where I can really hone in on annual fund donations.
Question 1: How have you (and Regis) cultivated an office culture as a largely new team?
I think transition is hard and having new members can bring stress with it.
Here at Regis, we’ve had the benefit of having many Regians on our team. These alumni allow us to lean on them for questions regarding school traditions and school culture, which is very handy. And then we can also use these alums on staff to take the temperature within their respective class years to measure things like current outreach efforts and the events that we have scheduled.
Additionally, I think our office is conscious of celebrating together. For instance, when a birthday is approaching we’ll all gather for a team lunch. We are also encouraged to participate in full faculty and staff gatherings. We also have a weekly team meeting. Every week, we add it to the calendar and this just allows everybody to know what each other is doing and what projects are taking place simultaneously.
Question 2: For Regis’ 2023 Giving Weekend and Giving Tuesday you made use of both challenges and leaderboards, was that effective at raising more?
And it’s something we’re going to continue to use. Both challenges and leaderboards will be in our upcoming Giving Tuesday efforts, as well as our giving weekend in June. We think that our alums really feed off the competitiveness that the leaderboards display in real time.
In addition to raising more money, we also think they’re very effective time saving efforts.
They help make our back end annual fund team much more efficient. When you’re already trying to manage a busy campaign. For example, instead of us having to calculate the number of donors from each class and then circulate that update around with our class fund chairs, the leaderboards are updated in real time as gifts come in and we just tell each class fund chair to keep refreshing that link and see how many donors have contributed already.
Question 3: Do you think most groups of alums are competitive?
When I’ve been at other schools, I’ve seen that alums do have that competitive edge to them, especially when it comes to giving days. But the way that it’s managed at Boost really streamlines the efforts.
Boost allows you to focus on communications with different alums and segmenting, and really takes that whole effort of having to manually update gifts as they come in totally off your plate.
So I think it’s a wonderful feature and Boost has done a really nice job with updating Leaderboards and allowing us to use them for every constituency.
Question 4: What’s one “quick tip” you’d give to increase annual giving at a peer school?
I guess my answer is a little bit more broad with respect to networking and reaching out to peer schools. But I think a quick tip is to just realize that you’re never alone. So if you’re going through a particular challenge or you feel like you can’t think of a new way to increase your participation, reach out to your counterparts at other schools.
I find that networking with other schools on how they’ve broken records or even found something that was terrible that you should never even try is so helpful.
Boost was also incredibly helpful for both our Giving Tuesday and our giving weekend. If we had a new idea Regis that we wanted to implement, like creating a challenge that is only held during a specific window, say, 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm where donations over $50 during window get an incentive Boost has always helped us work that out and picked the easiest way for us to implement it in the campaign.
Hudson is the Marketing Manager at Boost My School. He is a graduate of Fordham University and the Albany Academies. Hudson is dedicated to the growth and support of K-12 education and is an active member of his local school community. In his free time, Hudson enjoys playing soccer, hiking, and cooking.