What is Institutional Advancement?

A Gesher supporter recently asked me to define ‘Institutional Advancement’ (IA). It’s a term referenced in many different settings and can take on different meanings depending on the organization.

A quick Wiki look-up provides a broad definition: “the division of an institution focused on the improvement of the entity, primarily involved in fundraising activities. It is, therefore, heavily involved in communications (especially alumni relations), marketing, and public relations.”

Gesher JDS expands this definition. Established in July 2019, the IA department unites all outward-facing functions: admissions, engagement programming, marketing/communications, community partnerships, and development (fundraising). In making this shift both organizationally and philosophically we accomplished two big things.

First, we were able to create a consistent and highly visible message about Gesher and our Northern Virginia Jewish community. The impact is evident as we welcome new families and new donors into our community. Our conversations with future Gesher parents in many ways mirror our conversations with prospective donors. Each conversation is values-based, focused on our impact, identity, and excellence as a school. A parent’s decision to invest in a day school education (and thus in our Jewish future) comes from the same warm place in the heart as the donor’s decision to invest through philanthropy. Therefore, it makes total sense to collaborate as a department to ensure success across both areas.

Second, as a department, we are greater than the sum of our parts. By working effectively as a team, our IA department is the “Gesher”- bridge between the academic operations of the school and the business office. By developing more effective internal communication we ensure that admissions processes are clearly defined, financial aid decisions are made objectively and completely separate from academic decisions, philanthropic financial investments support the growth and impact of our school, and that we establish meaningful partnerships which positively impact the lives of not only our students and families but also the community at large.

This past Tuesday, we accepted a signed contract from a new family whose child will enter the Gan (Kindergarten) class next year (HOORAY!). The mother said to us, “this enrollment process has been so incredible, we’ve really enjoyed the entire experience!” What a wonderful compliment! From first participating in our I Say Shalom Baby & Me family program and touring the school through submitting their application, bringing their child for a Gesher Experience visit and subsequently receiving their enrollment contract online, the family was impressed by the professionalism and enthusiasm shared by every student, parent, and staff they encountered within our community. This is Institutional Advancement at its best!

Our IA calendar is jam-packed with programs and activities made possible through partnerships and cross-community collaboration. We hope that you will join us (and bring a friend!) as all are open to the greater community. We look forward to expanding our program offerings for all ages and stages in the months to come!

I encourage you to take this opportunity to explore some of the exciting programs coming up at Gesher over the next few weeks. For additional information or to register online, please click the links.

– a partnership program with Capital Camps, Camp Achva of the Pozez JCC and PJ Library of Greater Washington. CLICK HERE

Topic: Fair Competition in Jewish Law – Guidelines for going after the same job or real estate as your friend Hosted at the law firm of Holland & Knight in Tyson’s Corner- a partnership program with The Yeshiva of Greater Washington. CLICK HERE

TUESDAY MORNING, FEB. 25- Monthly I Say Shalom Baby Playdate @ Gesher
– a partnership program with PJ Library and Growing Jewish Families of the Pozez JCC CLICK HERE

SUNDAY EVENING, March 29 – Bennett Beit Midrash Rededication and
Moshav Band, LIVE in concert! This is our spring fundraising and friendraising event!
Please join us for this special evening, the whole community is invited!
Purchase your tickets or become a sponsor, CLICK HERE

I look forward to seeing you around the Gesher campus and out in the community!

Shabbat Shalom!
-Jennifer Scher
Director of Institutional Advancement