Fund-raising

Private schools often need to be creative when it comes to funding. This section provides tools, tips and resources on fundraising. Learn more about supporting your school, how to handle major gifts, and why keeping in touch with graduates can benefit your budget.
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You worked harder than you ever thought you possibly could. Your teachers demanded excellence. Your best. There were many times when you doubted your own ablities to make it. In the end they knew what they were doing. They also knew what you were acapable of. They helped lay that solid foundation for success in later life.
 
Your coaches refined your game. Showed your tips and tricks which made your more competitive. All without losing sight of good sportmanship and the benefits of regular exercise and physical activity.
 
But most importantly you graduated from your school with the best thing of all: a network of friends and classmates which will be yours for life.
 
Now it's time to consider how to give something back to that amazing school which nurtured you. Don't worry that your gift will be too small to matter. Give what you can.
 
Here are five ways in which you can support your school.
 
Annual Giving
 
Annual giving is the foundation of most private schools' fundraising efforts. Typically graduates, or alumni/alumnae as they are called,  are encouraged to make a gift every year in support of their school. It's the same concept as the gift you make to support your public radio station or other charity. The gifts range from small amounts to $5,000, $10,000 or more depending on the graduate's financial strength and capabilities. Parents and grandparents are often asked to support the school in this way as well. This has a certain appeal to families which have sent several generations . . .read more
Several private schools have received major gifts over the past several years. For purposes of this article we shall define a major gift as one million dollars or more. In addition to highlighting the generosity of the donors we also want to illustrate how the gifts are being used.

If you attended a private school and can afford to make a major gift to your alma mater, call your head of school. Discuss it with him or her. Once you get some broad agreement about how your gift can be used, then work out the legal and financial details with your advisers. The estate planning and tax consequences of a major gift are far too complex to be left to chance.

If you are a fund-raiser at a school, assume nothing. That shy 3rd grader who became a school teacher and never married just may surprise you. On the other hand the 8th grader who became a famous Wall Street trader may or may not have the means your school teacher alumna has. Cultivate everybody who attended your school. If they live far away from the school, Facebook and Twitter will keep them involved if you use those social media imaginatively and tastefully. A monthly email and an annual mailing via snail mail will complete the communications side of things. We'll look at some of the other things a private school can do to raise money in a separate article.

Finally, this article is aimed at . . .read more
In this tough economy raising money for non-profit organizations like private schools has never been tougher. For purposes of this article our focus is not on the older, more established schools such as Exeter, Hotchkiss, Middlesex and so on. These schools have long histories of successful fund-raising behind them. Instead our focus here is on the thousands of much smaller, much newer, less financially strong private schools which serve communities all over the United States.

First of all, let's break our fund-raising into three distinct sections and understand what it is that you are trying to achieve with these critical but separate fund-raising objectives.

1. Annual giving
2. Capital campaign
3. Endowments

Annual Giving
Annual giving has to be something which every private school encourages constantly all year round. Here's a brief outline of how annual giving works..

 

  • Budget an amount which you need to help balance your budget.
  • Announce a target of at least 20% more than what you need to allow for shrinkage and unexpected events.
  • Divide that up into 12 monthly allotments. These monthly allotments can differ according to how your forecasting is done. For example, you might project a higher total for the month which has Reunion Weekend or some other annual event which draws in lots of your alumni and other supporters.
  • Put your annual giving information on a secure page on your website so that your supporters can give anytime they want to without having to write a check or speak with somebody.

 


There's . . .read more
Keeping in touch with your graduates is not easy these days. In the old days you sent a chatty snail mail letter to your graduates two or three times a year. It was full of news about marriages, grad school, jobs, and so on. Of course, it always had updates and information about goings on at school, sports results and a word from your favorite teachers. Those kind of newsletter mailings to alumni still go out. If you can afford them, your older graduates will most definitely appreciate them.
 
Printed mailings have been largely supplanted by interactive school web sites where graduates can log on and keep in touch with their classmates whenevr and wherever they choose.
 
Most alumni relations staff realize that their most recent classes don't stay in touch in the same ways their older graduates do. Snail mail and printed materials are fine for the class of '70 and earlier. Even Web portals may only be effective for the classes prior to '00. Our recent grads are a completely different beast.
 
The classes from 2001 onwards are the text, cellphone, YouTube, Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook crowd. They are all about social networking. Put a class reunion on YouTube and the response will be tremendous. When one of your alums creates a group on a social networking site, it will invariably draw other alums. They all love keeping in touch, but will invariably insist on doing so on their terms, electronically.
 

 
So, what is a harried . . .read more
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Fund-raising

Fund-raising

Private schools often need to be creative when it comes to funding. This section provides tools, tips and resources on fundraising. Learn more about supporting your school, how to handle major gifts, and why keeping in touch with graduates can benefit your budget.