Australian Boarding Schools Association Case Study

An interview with Richard Stokes, Executive Director, ABSA. ABSA is a national professional association run by two staff members.

Tell us about the ABSA. The Australian Boarding Schools Association exists to promote the interests of boarding schools in Australia by enhancing the well-being of boarders, facilitating the professional development of staff, and advancing best practice among schools.

What was your partnership situation before the program? We had only four partners, all paying less than $5,000 per year to support us.

What situation you are in now? At this stage we have raised around $180,000 per year and have 13 partners, with a number more to be hopefully signed up shortly.

What surprised you most about the process of implementing a partnership program? Possibly how easy it all was, but also how much time it takes. The developing of the proposal itself took over a hundred hours but is the best document we have ever published.

What was the most challenging part of the process? Time to chase up and communicate, and really believing how much we are worth. So many potential partners try hard to beat you down, but if you do stand your ground, you most often come out with a favourable outcome.

If you could go back and tell yourself anything before you started, what would it be? Try to allocate more time, travel less, and put other projects aside while you give this one its best shot.

What was the thing you were most thankful for during the process? Julian’s support - and his expertise in teaching us how to talk to people about our worth.

How long did it take until you generated results after making the decision to proactively seek sponsorship? Probably only a few months - we got our first full paying partner on board four months after the document was completed and sent out.

Any other comments you would like to include?  We put off engaging a consultant for two years because we didn’t think we could afford it - in fact, we couldn’t afford not to! Having someone guide us through the whole process was invaluable - and in fact has helped us form some really strong friendships amongst those we have signed as partners.