Schools often ask us why donors potential do not give – or why they give more to other organisations

Schools often ask us why potential donors do not give – or why they give more to other organisations. 

Schools also question how best to move from ‘friend-raising’ to asking these friends to consider donating to their school. Our advice? The best way to find out is to ask them. 

Our approach is to deploy a series of research mechanisms which include donor interviews and online stakeholder research.  Independently and collectively these services provide schools with a deep insight into the heart and minds of supporters, thus providing guidance for how to engage and build relationships with them. 

The magic lies in how we draw all the elements of research together. 

As independent and objective development experts, our consultants are skilled in analysing and interpreting the research findings and insight. 

We apply our sector knowledge and benchmarking to spot patterns and potential which others might miss. 

The result is meaningful, sometimes game-changing advice, direction and strategy that is bespoke to your school and rooted in evidence. 

We offer both quantitative and qualitative research tools:

01.Donor interviews

We describe this service as ‘engagement mapping’. Quite simply, it means asking old, current and even new friends of your school (typically alumni and parents), how they feel about your school, its vision, their relationship with it, and – hypothetically – whether they feel they might consider supporting your school at some point in the future through some kind of donation. 

Unlike a feasibility study, this kind of in-depth research can take place at any time: before, after or even during a fundraising campaign. Through our one-to-one research discussions, we can give you great insight into the preferences and values of your potential, current and past supporters.  

The output will typically reveal: 

  • What kind of fundraising income the School could be achieving (e.g., major gifts, legacies, regular giving, corporate).
  • The opportunities and roadblocks to achieving the fundraising potential.
  • Strategic recommendations to help strengthen and position cases for support and fundraising goals.
  • Evidence-based recommendations for targets and the steps required to achieve them.
  • Clear next steps in building relationships with potential major donors.

Our expertise in this area goes far beyond scripted telephone research.  While the meetings will be planned and have the same underlying structure, our consultants are highly experienced in driving the conversations in different directions, if necessary, to explore new areas and reveal unexpected opportunities. The key to each interview will be to determine the best next step or ‘move’ for each individual to ensure that engagement strengthens and potential for support is deepened. The resulting intelligence helps you to plan and optimise future fundraising activities and create the type of fundraising experiences most likely to appeal. 

02.Online stakeholder research

Our tailored surveys provide detailed and in-depth insights into the minds and hearts of alumni (and/or parent constituents) to inform direction and strategic planning. Going far beyond conventional approaches, our online research is designed to help you understand and develop your stakeholder community around the world. 

Itself a highly effective engagement mechanism, it helps to shape your constituents’ perceptions and further develops their goodwill. 

Bespoke, scalable, fast and affordable for most development budgets, the research covers such areas as: 

  • Engagement with the school, and effectiveness of communications and events 
  • Continuing involvement with the school 
  • Aims of the alumni community 
  • Attitudes to supporting fundraising 

The technology and expertise at the core of the offering bring best practice, speed, efficiency and accuracy along with a survey that feels personal to the respondent.  

Overall, our service will deliver three critical elements: 

  • a deep insight into the views of the stakeholder community providing the school, the Development team and alumni association with answers, opinions and direction – helping to shape future plans with accuracy and confidence. 
  • highly effective engagement mechanisms for all stakeholders providing an opportunity to take them on a journey, capture their thoughts, shape perceptions and further develop goodwill.
  • a list of individuals who are interested in providing support and are happy to be contacted – in other words, a list of people saying, ‘I’d like to give money and/or time, let’s discuss how I can help you’.

In summary, our Stakeholder Surveys are ‘game changers’ for our clients and provide direction, validation, ideas, good will and potential donors – quickly and cost effectively.  They are catalysts for a step-change in a school’s development goals. 


"The survey and analysis enabled us to take an enhanced view of our strategic approach from differing standpoints. RSAcademics were able to read between the lines and understand the dynamics in play. We are delighted with new directions, possibilities and approaches that have been revealed."

Douglas Collins, CEO, Harrow Development Trust

Get in touch

Email Rachael Petrie, Head of Philanthropy, via

Call Rachael on +44 1858 467449