The Advice Booth: Getting on the Same Page With an Endowment Campaign

Your board and administration are excited about their decision to launch an endowment campaign. In announcing this campaign to the faculty, the head of school discovers that teachers are less enthusiastic. In their view, any money raised for an endowment might better be spent addressing the school’s current needs, including improvements in the classrooms, educational supplies and technology, and teacher salaries. How can the head convince the teachers that an endowment is an important priority for the school?

Teachers raise important concerns that should be considered at the beginning of any endowment campaign at a Jewish day school. These concerns highlight the importance of not only external messaging about the endowment effort to the donor community but also internal messaging to teachers and, indeed, all school personnel about this new undertaking.

The internal case for endowment builds consensus and purpose among the entire day school community. If the entire community is on board to build endowment, the effort has a much better chance of succeeding.

Here are some points that successful schools have made to present the case to their teachers and staff:

Annual and special gifts are never turned away in favor of an endowment gift; these consistent gifts are usually given from income. Endowment gifts are generally (but not always) made from assets.

Building endowment is a sign of a well-prepared, forward-thinking school to ensure its long-term survival. An endowment signals permanency.

My colleague Pearl Kane shared the following: When funds are tight at a school, one of the first items deleted from a school’s operating budget may well be professional development for teachers. A healthy endowment will keep up an investment in teachers and competitive salary and benefits.

Endowments provide the incentive to move towards fundraising maturity; it is an additional platform to build strong relations with donors and move to the next level of fundraising for the school.

Research has shown that endowment donors are more invested and tend to increase their annual gifts at a higher rate. The increased giving reflects the donor’s commitment to the school.

Teachers are an important part of the partnership of board, administration and volunteers to help the school raise endowment dollars. Include them in your planning.

Author
Helen London
Issue
Catalyzing Resources
Knowledge Topics
Professional Leadership