Catholic Schools

In working with Catholic schools, ISPD focuses energy on teaching, coaching and guiding clients through the many areas of Development and Planning. Because all ISPD associates have strong backgrounds as administrators, development officers, and teachers, much of the focus is working with Catholic school leaders in teaching and facilitating the many processes the company offers.

ISPD clients are always appreciative that the associate working with them has walked in their shoes and is able to bring many years of experience to the table. Through individual consults, workshops, conference calls, and presentations since 1989, ISPD is proud to offer best practices from throughout the country with processes that are successful with many Catholic schools.

There are many types of planning processes that Catholic schools are presented with – from their diocesan Catholic School Office, from the state in which they reside, from regional or national agencies, and even from some consulting firms. Some take the form of evaluations and accreditations; others take the form of five year planning efforts; and others are launched because parish and/or school leaders want to build a stronger vision and plan for the future.

ISPD frequently recommends that Catholic school’s strategic growth planning draw from the National Standards and Benchmarks of Effective Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools to examine the four key areas of schooling: Mission & Catholic Identity, Academic Excellence, Governance & Leadership, and Operational Vitality.

Here at ISPD, we believe it is essential for Catholic schools to have a clear vision and plan for improving their future in these four areas. We also believe that there is a choice on how a Catholic institution goes about planning for the future. Do you want to approach planning from a development stance or from a “let’s get it done” stance? Is your planning effort going to involve just the leadership of your parish and/or school, or is it going to reach out and invite new voices and untapped talent? Are you going to seek input from those with whom you feel comfortable or are you going to invite those with various views and opinions to come to the table?

A planning effort needs to invite and engage people. If you are planning the future of your Catholic school, why limit your input to parents, board, faculty and staff, and alumni? Why not invite leaders from other schools? Why not invite experts in the fields of technology, academics, athletics, student life, finance, development, administration, and buildings and grounds? This is planning done from a development stance: inviting and engaging people to become part of your future.

Will they come and help you? YES! People believe in your school’s mission and want to see it thrive. Catholic schools can be the recipients of much wisdom if we will open up our doors and invite people inside. Four keys before you invite someone:

  1. Know why you are launching the planning process.
  2. Make sure there is objectivity built into the process.
  3. Make sure there is an outline that shows anyone how you will move forward.
  4. Make sure you are prepared to hear and respect what others have to say – even if it is different from your own.

Why be reactive when you can be proactive? The basic steps are not that difficult:

  1. Assessing the school’s strengths and challenges
  2. Establishing the steering committee
  3. Researching best practices
  4. Gathering school community input (faculty, parents, alumni, parishioners, etc.)
  5. Conducting a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis
  6. Updating mission and vision
  7. Defining planning areas
  8. Articulating key challenges
  9. Inviting many to help solve the challenges
  10. Prioritizing challenge and SMART solutions
  11. Finalizing the Strategic Growth Plan
  12. Implementing the plan

ISPD provides a time-tested process to assist schools in developing not only a relevant and impactful Strategic Growth Plan but also, perhaps more importantly, the people who are willing to invest in ensuring a successful implementation.

ISPD helps Catholic schools maintain and/or increase the quantity, quality, or diversity of your elementary or secondary Catholic school enrollment.  ISPD has delivered proven practical processes to engage thousands of Catholic school administrators, board members, diocesan school office officials, faculty, staff, parents, and volunteers.  Through both workshops and on-site consulting with individual schools and dioceses, ISPD emphasizes a variety of important focus areas – all intended to bring about immediate results.

Here are the top three ways that schools and dioceses utilize ISPD’s Enrollment Management Solutions:

  1. Enrollment Assessment & Present Situation Analysis with Strategies for Moving Forward
  • One or two-day site visit that reviews every aspect of a school’s enrollment effort.  From the site visit, you receive a detailed report identifying next steps.
  • On-Site Assessment Options.
  1. Enrollment Management Consult
  • ISPD offers intensive multi-month consults that walk your school through every step in establishing a total system approach to Enrollment management.
  1. Topical Enrollment Management Workshops
  • ISPD has reached countless schools across the country with topical Enrollment Management workshops. These workshops focus on the key players in your Enrollment Management operation as well as the tactical types of actions that need to be implemented.

Since the beginning years of the company, ISPD has taught the comprehensive approach to the Annual Fund. Building the effort around two chair couples and key divisions — Major, Leadership, Parent, Alumni, Friends, Business, and Parish (if applicable) – with chairs for each division, this approach has proven successful for hundreds of Catholic schools throughout the country.

Included in this process is a Major Gift component that ISPD uses to work with Catholic schools to boost the one-on-one relationship building with many of the various constituents.

Using a personalized approach, ISPD works with Catholic schools to show them how to learn more about their alum base. Through this process, ISPD shows Development/Advancement personnel how to expand their circle of key alums, how to gather information on every class, how to set up out of town/state alumni gatherings, how to work with alumni leaders, how to get hundreds of alums back on campus, and how to engage alums in meaningful ways back into the school.

40% of ISPD’s work is with capital campaigns – for Catholic schools, parishes and dioceses. The company is hands-on using their patented “Traffic Light” approach and leading schools through the five stages of a campaign:

  • Exploration—Discovery—Feasibility
  • Campaign Organization
  • Pacesetter Phase
  • Public Phase
  • Operation Homestretch

Through the years, ISPD has worked with over 150 Catholic school campaigns raising millions of dollars and engaging thousands of people who are now leaders in their respective schools.

Oftentimes, ISPD is invited to assess a Catholic school’s Development efforts, and this is usually a process that is initiated on the front end of the consultation. The ISPD Assessment is made up of five components:

  • Gathering of materials
  • Binder of questions in 21 Assessment Areas
  • Individual interviews with 25-30 selected people
  • Group sessions with administration and Development team
  • Final presentation to school leaders

The final report is filled with summaries of the interviews, a highlight section on the top 10 areas that stood out for ISPD, a review of the Assessment Areas, and a final recommendation section. As we often say, ISPD is taking a “snapshot” of the Development/Advancement efforts of the school and offering commendations and recommendations – both short-term and long-term.