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
Bullying has been part of our human existence since time began. While bullying goes by different names and takes several different forms, whether you call it intimidation or threatening, whether you do it verbally or with your body language, bullying is upsetting and unnerving behavior. Fortunately for us parents, it is completely unacceptable in most private schools, as it should be everywhere else. Most private school discipline codes have strict policies concerning bullying. Be aware that these policies are enforced quickly because students are governed by contract law. In other words, the contract which you signed with the school spells out very clearly the consequences of any infractions of the school's discipline code. Those consequences, such as suspension, or worse, expulsion, will happen swiftly.
Naturally, like just about anything else you can think of, bullying has gone electronic. If you thought that bullying was hard to detect in its analog forms, you can imagine how much more difficult electronic or cyberbullying, as it is now called, is to detect. So, where does cyberbullying fit in? As I noted, cyberbullying or bullying done electronically is extremely difficult for us adults to detect. The reason why is that cyberbullying lurks in the virtual shadows created by social media and smartphones. Unless you are following somebody and can monitor their various social media accounts or have access to their mobile device, you cannot definitively prove that cyberbullying is actually occurring. I used the term social media which itself used
Raising money for non-profit organizations such as private schools has never been tougher or more complicated. A series of major disasters both at home and abroad can have a negative impact on fundraising efforts, so connected has our global community become. However, the advantage private schools have is their built-in donor pool. Alumni and alumnae, parents, grandparents, and friends comprise this group of past, present and future donors. The trick is to figure out how to get them giving consistently and in line with their financial resources.
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. These are schools which rely heavily on their top administrators and small support staffs to handle all the development and fundraising needs. These dedicated people are, for the most part, experienced professionals who believe in what they do. They also know that their donor base has significant potential, although just how large that potential is unknown. Even more, vexing is figuring out how to reach those donors capable of making major gifts.
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
1. Conduct a Rigorous Situation Assessment
Know the Board's Appetite for Change
Document the Way Things Work Today
- Prepare a detailed description of every major functional area.
- Include everything from the administrative functions through to the academic functions.
- Identify who is responsible for the functional activity, the activities being managed, the way the activities are managed, staffing, and budget.
Putting up posters and holding rallies for student council president are not generally considered a violation of the 'no politicking' provisions of the law. Internal or with in the bounds of the school community activities are acceptable. Read Rules for Exempt Organizations During an Election Year for further guidance.
In an election year where emotions are running high and record numbers of young people are being drawn into the process, you need to be very careful that your school complies with the law. Make sure you state your policy clearly in the school's handbook. Enforce that policy. The last thing you need is for somebody to file a complaint with the IRS and put your tax-exempt status in jeopardy.
Schedule A of Form 990 gives you a place to document your 'lobbying' activites or lack thereof. Remember: your school's membership in NAIS and other regional independent school organizations can be construed as 'lobbying'. Generally the amount spent on memberships is relatively insignificant when compared to your overall expenditures. Just be certain to record those memberships