Hired in spring 2011, The Woolbright Group was initially asked to assist in board development for the Academy’s Trustees, provide strategic planning for the annual fund, and review and assess the parent and alumni programs for better alignment with the Academy’s Strategic Plan. Over the course of six months, WG interviewed and surveyed the board, then presented two workshops focused on governance and the board’s role in raising philanthropic support. Additionally, a three-year plan for increasing leadership gifts and donors was developed. Further, an alumni and parent program review was conducted that included surveys of these two constituents. Following the report and recommendations, WG continued consulting services that included Board of Trustees’ preparedness for a comprehensive campaign, along with board development and assistance in implementing strategies for the annual giving program. Presently, consulting continues in the areas of campaign planning, board governance, and strategic annual giving.
In its first year, The John Harris Circle, requiring a five-year commitment to increasing leadership engagement and annual funding, gained 76 new members and surpassed funding over the prior year by $57,000, representing 35% of the Academy Fund. Annual giving increased by 34% during this inaugural year. Further, the strength of the Board of Trustees’ leadership in campaign preparation increased significantly. The Academy continues to develop strategies for broadening participation and engagement among key parents and alumni in campaign planning. Board assessment and evaluation continues to expand and improve results of the board’s performance.
Cynthia Woolbright’s expertise, warm personality and enthusiasm for her work have been embraced by our staff and Board of Trustees alike. We have been working with her for over a year and she’s helped us create a “culture of philanthropy” at Harrisburg Academy. She has guided our Board Committee on Trusteeship to create stronger, more committed leaders; given us the tools to reshape our Annual Fund, and has helped position the school to launch a comprehensive campaign. She’s flexible, dependable, and understands the challenges related to independent school fundraising.”
Jim Newman, Ph.D., Head of School, Harrisburg Academy
“Preparing for a comprehensive campaign takes a whole new level of understanding, so it was critical to have a professional from the outside to come in and say, “This is where you’re at…this is where you need to be,” and to assess your operations and the feasibility of bringing in the kinds of gifts that you need to launch a campaign. Cynthia has definitely helped our board understand what was needed to be successful, as well as what kind of commitment is required from the board, both in terms of time and treasure, to launch a capital campaign. Her work with our board has just been wonderful. She has been instrumental in steering them to a whole new level of understanding. And they’ve really taken to her because she’s warm and funny and she makes them laugh, but most importantly she has helped them accomplish so much in the 18 months they’ve been working with her. Cynthia has been a real asset to this institution.”
Jessica Ritchie, Director of Development and Alumni Relations, Harrisburg Academy