School anniversaries provide an ideal occasion to boost your visibility with important constituencies, including your hometown. Increasingly, schools are using birthdays as a vehicle to launch or round up major fundraising programs, including capital campaigns for endowment and bricks and mortar. If you want to be a really with-it party animal, get started well before the anniversary year, because there’s lots of work to accomplish in advance.
Set an alert in your calendar 2½ years before your anniversary year and decide whether the celebration period will follow a calendar or academic year. Set a planning framework in place that includes these three key essentials:
GOALS—Determine what you hope to accomplish and to signify to your important audiences through the various anniversary events and communications
THEME—Brand your birthday with a theme and special look and message
BUDGET—Reach agreement on an overall budget for your birthday
A small working committee should be appointed to make these decisions, and then this group can brainstorm a menu of events with real resolve. (Beware the “7-hump camel” committee with too many participants and not enough focus.)
Very early on, you also should identify a member of the school community to serve as historian/archivist if this position is not already filled. You’ll need access to photos, documents and memorabilia that present your history up to and through the special year.
Planning well in advance will reduce the chance that your birthday will put the marcom staff on tilt or lead to expensive missteps. To learn more, contact schools that have recently celebrated a big birthday. Wikipedia’s list of educational institutions established in the 1910s makes your search easy.