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.
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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
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.