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Fundraising2-pulseUnlocking Extra Money
for Your Schools

Six tips and strategies to help your district fundraise effectively.
y Stan Levenson

School spending varies greatly around the country, but the one constant is that every school would welcome more money. Since the 2008 recession, at least 29 states are spending less on education today than six years ago, according to a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Fourteen states’ funding has dropped by at least 10 percent since 2008, and Oklahoma’s per-pupil spending plunged almost 24 percent in that time, according to an article in USA Today. It’s no surprise that outside fundraising is a key source of money for schools looking to prop up budgets. My new book, The Essential Fundraising Guide for K–12 Schools, offers an assortment of strategies, links, and information. Here are my top six pieces of advice.

Start a Development Office Now
Some school districts, including public charter schools, are discovering what universities and colleges have already learned: Development offices, staffed by experienced, competent people, can definitely raise more money than they cost to operate. More schools are taking this step, even on a small scale. I’m finding that within two to three years, these departments can become a steady source of funds for districts.

Grants for Teachers and Schools
Teachers are busy people. They need all the help they can get. How can they find funding for some of their basic classroom necessities or to replenish what’s been lost already? DonorsChoose.org and GrantsAlert.com are two great websites to get them started.

Making the Case for Support
A case statement is essential when gearing up for a fundraising campaign. Whether you are trying to increase annual giving, a capital campaign, planned giving, or foundation grants, it’s important to work through questioning strategies written from a donor’s prospective before beginning the case statement. Here are the top four questions to consider:

  1. Why are we contacting you at this time?
  2. Why is there an urgent need for money?
  3. Why is our solution unique?
  4. What will happen if we don’t get the money?

Cultivating and Connecting With Major Donors
Many prospective major donors are already right in your district. They can be graduates of the public schools, they can live or work in your community, or they may own local businesses or corporations. They can have children or grandchildren in your schools or be former teachers or administrators in the district. Learn how to identify and work with prospective major donors to make them feel like they are part of your schools and progress.

Lead Gifts and Naming Rights
Named gifts have been around for a long time on private school campuses and at colleges and universities. A number of public school districts are realizing that schools are a wonderful place for a family to leave a legacy by having a school building, a cafeteria, a ball field, or a seat in a theater named after them. In addition, schools and school districts are exploring ways of giving commercial vendors and corporations opportunities for naming rights, especially as they relate to gymnasiums, ball fields, auditoriums, stadiums, and signage.

Online Giving
There are more than 2 billion people online worldwide. The Chronicle of Philanthropy reports online giving is growing far faster than all other types of donations. It seems clear that many donors want to give from their desktops, smartphones, and tablets. The potential for raising serious online money is enormous. Make sure your district is able to reach people online, take their donations easily, and make them feel like a part of your district’s progress.

Stan Levenson has been involved in K–12 fundraising for more than 40 years. His new book, The Essential Fundraising Guide for K–12 Schools, is available on Amazon.

Find out more about him at stanlevenson.com.

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