In developing this guiding document, SAIS consulted with heads and other key school leaders who have recently experienced a leadership transition. They were asked to review existing items and contribute additional items from their transition experience. This will be an evolving checklist for schools planning or working through a head’s transition.


  • Identify donors for the new head to meet with immediately, and those to meet in the first three months.
  • Describe the overall state of donor health.
  • Develop a list of at least 20 key historic and current donors.
  • Identify top cumulative lifetime donors.
  • Outline makeup of the donor base – parents, alumni, friends, community, etc.
  • Identify long-term families (potentially with multiple children) and families who have been involved with fundraising at the school.
  • Identify any under-performing or non-performing pledges that could have an impact on the school.
  • Discuss previous fundraising strategies.
  • If applicable, the new head should meet one-on-one with campaign leadership, review progress to date, and discuss plans to complete the campaign.
  • Describe current alumni engagement and future goals.
  • Identify opportunities and challenges in advancement.