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.
View the most popular articles in Fund-raising:
5 Ways to Support Your School
Supporting your school is more important now than ever. Here are five ways to lend a financial hand.
You worked harder than you ever thought you possibly could. Your teachers demanded excellence. Your best. In the end they knew what they were doing. They helped lay the foundation for success in 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 of all 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. Don't worry that your gift will be too small to matter. Give what you can. Here are five ways to 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 to the same school.

Exactly how do you send money for an annual fund gift? Schools make this part of the process very easy and convenient. You can write a check and...
read more
Major Gifts to Private Schools
The only way private schools can build their financial security is through gifts. Major gifts offer proof of how deeply many donors feel about their private schools. Their munificence is a wonderful example to others.
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 newer private schools. The old, established...
read more
Raising Money for Your School
Raising money for the newer, small private school is a job for professionals. We examine the three major components of private school fund-raising.
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 much more to successful annual giving, of course, than what...
read more
Keeping In Touch With Your Graduates
Keeping in touch with your graduates is not easy these days. You must communicate via snail mail, web portals and social networks.
In the old days you sent a chatty snail mail letter to your graduates. It was full of news about marriages, grad school, jobs, and so on. Of course, it was 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. But they have been largely supplemented by interactive school web sites where graduates can log on and keep in touch with their classmates.
 
Well, that was the theory and practice. It worked for a year or two until alumni relations staff suddenly twigged to the reality that their most recent classes don't stay in touch that way. Snail mail is fine for the class of '70 and earlier. Web portals may be effective for the classes prior to '00. But these recent grads are a completely different beast.

The classes from 2001 onwards are the text, cellphone and Facebook crowd. They are all about social networking. Put a class reunion on YouTube and the fallout 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 doing so on their terms, electronically.

So, what is a harried alumni director supposed to do? Embrace all three forms of communication. In truth you do have three quite different constituencies. Send out your quarterly snail mailings. Encourage interactivity and donations via your web site. Fan the flames...
read more
Recent Articles
Choosing a School: 10 Things Which Matter To Parents
Choosing a School: 10 Things Which Matter To Parents
Never lose sight of why you are planning to send your child to private school. This list of ten considerations will help you focus on the things which matter.
3 Tips for an Effective Private School Job Search
Use these tips to tweak your job search strategies as you seek employment in a private school.
5 Financial Aid DOs and DONTs
Part of the private school selection process is financial aid. We point out five issues about which you should be aware.