SAINT MARY'S SCHOOL
Founded in 1842, Saint Mary’s was known throughout the South for offering the last two years of high school and the first two years of college. As more women wanted 4-year college degrees and the junior college model became outdated, the board of trustees voted in 1998 to discontinue the junior college model and operate solely as an all-girls’ boarding and day school. With strong new leadership, Saint Mary's School engaged Art & Science Group to create a fundraising plan to put the secondary school on sound financial footing as well as to underwrite new programs and facilities geared for the high school student. We quickly determined, however, that to be successful in fundraising, Saint Mary's School needed to demonstrate strong institution-wide strategies. Most notably, the school needed to improve its admission efforts before it could focus on fundraising.
We conducted both prospective student and alumnae studies to understand Saint Mary's School’s day and boarding markets, and the potential for alumnae support in admission and fundraising. Based on the findings, in close consultation with volunteer leaders and with the determined commitment of the school's leadership, we helped devise a multi-dimensional approach that included the branding of signature curricular and co-curricular programs, investments in student life, focused student-recruitment and alumnae-relations strategies and enhanced public relations.
Saint Mary's School’s enrollment has grown from approximately 230 to 280 students, including a 16 percent increase in the boarding students which the Board desired. The School now finds itself in competition with more prestigious boarding schools. Art & Science Group subsequently conducted a follow-up study to assess its changed position in the market and develop a corresponding set of revamped marketing strategies.