My passion for independent school education connects directly back to my experience as a scholarship student at a New England boarding school. I frequently look back on that wonderful gift I was given with a sense of tremendous gratitude; it is not an exaggeration to say that I would not be the person or the educator I am today if not for the generosity of the many families who supported the school’s annual fund that earmarked money for financial assistance. I’ve often wished I could have the actual names and addresses of the people who made my education possible, so rather than remaining nameless and faceless, I would be able to tell them about the many ways and times their gifts have been paid forward.
At this time of year, when we are about to kick off our Annual Fund campaign, I think of the ways in which All Saints would not be what it is today if not for the philanthropic gifts from so many families and community members who support the Fund. From Smartboards to iPads, play yard structures to fish tanks, and even the bricks that make up the outside facade of our new classrooms, the generosity of parents can be seen at every turn in our school. And while there are many ways to share your treasure with the school, the most powerful mechanism is the Annual Fund. These unrestricted funds comprise almost 6% of our operating budget, making it possible for us to keep tuition down, provide competitive teacher salaries, stay ahead of the technology curve, keep our historic buildings in tip-top shape, and provide financial assistance for families who cannot afford to pay full tuition.
The growth of our school over the past several years is nothing short of amazing! I was looking back at a school wish list we put together during my early tenure at the school, and was taken aback at how far we’ve come. I remember the occasion as though it were yesterday. The PA was concluding its fundraising efforts for the play yard, which was a HUGE undertaking for our small school at the time, and they asked me what else we needed. Not sure how to respond, I gathered the staff together and we came up with the following items for our wish list, which I handed over with some trepidation about the boldness of the ask: an LED projector, a pull down screen, and Morning Meeting easels for the classrooms.
If someone from that PA group ten years ago would have told me that in 2012 we’d raise enough money for a fleet of 30 iPads, or in 2013 we’d raise $90,000 in “bundles of bricks” for our expansion project, or that our Annual Fund would grow from $28,000 to $186,000 I’d have politely found a way to tell them they were crazy! But here we are.
Noted author and lecturer Jim Collins said that “good is the enemy of great,” and to me that is how I see the Annual Fund – it is the foundation on which we build and achieve greatness. The Fund allows us to dream, and turn those dreams into reality. The Fund takes “one-offs” and turns them into standard practice. For example: The Auction made our first fleet of 30 iPads possible, but it’s the Fund that fortifies our operating budget so that iPads have become a standard piece of equipment for every student in Grades 7 and 8; the Auction helped us buy some of the bricks needed for our expansion project, but it’s the Fund that will help us to sustain the increased costs associated with this new space.
Be on the lookout for our Annual Fund mailer, which you should be receiving shortly. You’ll notice that the campaign is structured a little differently this year. As you consider the gift you are going to make, please think about the many people who have given before you to make our school what it is today, and give as generously as you can. Together we can pay that generosity forward, and make our dreams take flight.
Comments? Thoughts? Ideas? I’d love to hear them! Email me: firstname.lastname@example.org