023 Community partnerships fundraising with Emily Clarke, Director of Development, Highgate School

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In this episode I talk to Emily Clarke, Director of Development at Highgate School, about fundraising for community partnerships. Expanding on previous episodes about the building blocks of bursary strategy and my exploration of the real situation schools face getting bursaries established in my conversation with Bart Wielenga, the Head of Blundell's School, I move on to considering community partnerships. This is an area that is potentially rich for fundraising opportunities, and the work Emily Clarke has been doing is an excellent illustration of this.


Emily Clarke has worked in the Development Office at Highgate since 2014 and she has lead the school's fundraising campaign since 2018. Firstly, I ask Emily about Highgate's commitment to partnerships and bursaries, and how it stems from the school's history as a charitable foundation. We then explore what Highgate's specific community partnerships, the Chrysalis Partnership Programme and the London Academy of Excellence in Tottenham, involve in terms of inspiring children and making change around improving social mobility and social injustice.


I ask Emily about the fundraising journey Highgate has been on during the COVID-19 pandemic, and how they have adjusted their fundraising to serve the increased need for support in their local community. We discuss the types of fundraising Highgate has employed, both major gifts relationships and mass fundraising including challenge events. We talk about the challenges of breaking a perfectionist approach by taking risks and boldly speculating.


Finally, I ask Emily what advice she would give to other school leaders as they fundraise for bursary programmes and community partnerships.


Episode highlights

  • Introducing Emily Clarke (03:01)

  • Highgate School's historical commitment to partnerships (04:53)

  • What Highgate's community partnerships involve (09:28)

  • How the fundraising journey has changed during the pandemic (15:30)

  • Types of fundraising employed by Highgate (23:21)

  • Breaking the perfectionist approach (30:30)

  • Going forward beyond (33:22)

  • Advice for other senior school leaders (37:02)


References and resources

Highgate School


Chrysalis and Chrysalis East


London Academy of Excellence Tottenham


Episode 019: Craft you bursary strategy


Episode 020: Bursaries and strategy in practice with Bart Wielenga, Head, Blundell's School


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