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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Updated August 17, 2016 |
The E.E. Ford Foundation: An Inspiration For 21st Century Benefactors
We take a look at the enormous impact a private foundation can have on education.

Editor's Note: I asked John Gulla, the Executive Director of the E.E. Ford Foundation to answer some questions about the Foundation's work specifically, and independent school philanthropy in general. I am grateful to him for his thoughtful responses.  Rob Kennedy

John Gulla, Executive Director, E.E. Ford Foundation

Preamble

JG: One does not have to read Thomas Piketty's Capital in the 21st Century, though I do strongly recommend it, to understand the challenges of late-stage capitalism and the concentration of wealth.  Half of the world's wealth is now controlled by less than 1% of the population.  Put another way, the wealth of the top 1% equals the wealth of the other 99%.  Viewed slightly differently, fewer than 100 individuals own as much as the poorest half of the world's population.   This is not the place for a discussion of how this has come about or the challenges it represents, but I think that the data provide a prima facie case for the increasing role of Private Foundations in the years ahead.  

RK: What was Edward E. Ford hoping to accomplish by establishing his foundation? 

JG: The current mission of the Foundation is to "strengthen and support independent secondary schools and to challenge and inspire them to leverage their unique talents, expertise and resources to advance teaching and learning throughout this country by supporting and disseminating best practice, by supporting efforts to develop and implement models of sustainability, and by

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Updated June 13, 2016 |
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. 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
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Updated June 13, 2016 |
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
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Updated June 13, 2016 |
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.

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
2. Capital

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Updated May 25, 2016 |
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.
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
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