The schools annual fund

Do any of you care to share your experience(s) with private school annual fund.
Is there a formula you use? i.e. 10percent of the tuition or is the giving from the heart?
Thank You</p>

<p>This is tricky to be sure. Our school suggests an amount. No need to give it. No need to give much – they want everyone to participate. I say go with your heart.</p>

<p>Since we were on a generous need-based FA package it seemed almost inappropriate for our family to give more than a token amount. As London suggested, as our school, while surely the total amount was important, they seemed equally interested in being able to say that 100% of families participated.</p>

<p>I’m a parent volunteer for the annual fund at my kid’s school. (And we also receive FA, so our gift won’t be a big one… it will be what I can afford, and it will be heartfelt). As stated above, it’s not so much the size of the gift that matters, but the participation. Having 100% participation by parents says A LOT about the school… it shows that parents believe in the school, and is a vote of confidence for its leadership. I personally feel that there’s no excuse for a current parent not to support the annual fund – even if they are only able to make a gift of ten dollars (or less!). (I’ve actually heard someone say “But I pay $50K a year in tuition. Isn’t that enough?” Um, actually, no… it’s a completely different thing. And as we know, even full tuition does not cover the cost of educating a student at prep school… basically, everyone is subsidized to some extent.)<br>
My apologies for not being more articulate here. It’s been a very long day…</p>

<p>cameo -think someone who is not on FA and gives 10 percent of the yearly tuition is perceived has cheap in the offices or by the Head??</p>

<p>At our private day school, they care about participation. They don’t care about the amount…it could be as little as $10 (whatever you’re comfortable with) but just participate. They school always sends out a very heartfelt handwritten note thanking us for our generous donation. Personally, we give what we could and we’ve never felt like it had to be a certain amount.</p>

<p>We have given a very modest amount to our kids’ schools - nowhere in the ballpark of 10% of tuition. Our contributions are heartfelt, and we give what we feel is an appropriate amount, based on our own family circumstances. We have only ever received an “attitude of gratitude” from the schools, regardless of the amount of the check.</p>

<p>100% parent participation is the key, I believe, not the $ amount.</p>

<p>Babykins: I come from a background in fundraising and development. I spent a couple of years working in the development office at a well known boarding school. I can assure you that no one there ever looked at incoming gifts from parents with anything other than extreme gratitude. And they would be thrilled to have more parents who have your generous spirit! If you believe in the school, do not worry about formulas or making an impression. Your kid is the one really making the impression there. If you believe in the school, just let your heart be your guide.</p>

<p>Thank you so much to all of you who have replied at this point. You are all so helpful!!</p>

<p>All that said, schools are really thrilled when parents can give the equivalent of the shortfall in tuition vs. operating costs per student (in other words, the difference between what your child’s education actually costs the school and the amount you pay in tuition). It’s way more than 10 percent of tuition. But I totally agree that schools are incredibly appreciative of whatever parents can give, and very focused on trying to get to 100 percent participation in annual giving.</p>

<p>We give the shortfall as we are in a position to do so, and extremely grateful for the education DS is getting. We are fortunate to be able to do so and would not want to ask someone else to pay the cost of our child’s decision to attend private rather than public school. </p>

<p>I am sure however, that the schools development department appreciates all gifts. In fact they are well aware that a much smaller gift from one person may actually carry much more meaning than a larger gift from someone of far higher means.</p>

Do the schools typically explicitly disclose the shortfall between tuition and costs per pupil? Our experience with private schools is that the figure is some what hush-hush, which always struck me as odd.

I thought most schools did disclose the difference between tuition and the actual, true cost per student. At least the schools I am most familiar with do so.

I can’t imagine why a school wouldn’t disclose that information. Indeed, I think many schools successfully use the figure as part of their pitch for giving annual giving. It’s not intuitive to many parents why annual giving is important, particularly if they have a general sense of a school’s endowment. So a useful technique in encouraging annual giving is to point out what a significant shortfall there is between the actual costs per pupil and the tuition. While the schools may not make the figure public in the sense of posting the information on their website, I would think any school would be glad to provide that information to a parent who asked. And if they weren’t, that would sure set off some alarm bells for me.

Andover announces the day when tuition stops covering costs - sometime in April. They have a cake and I think optional cards the kids can write to thank donors (general thank you notes not to specific donors). They make sure the kids know that everyone is being subsidized not just the kids on FA.

Thanks, we have no experience yet with high schools, but so far in three different private (elementary) schools our children have been to, the gap is always mentioned, but not the actual number. “Mass-mailed” Annual Fund solicitations do not include the actual data nor do they have any suggested amounts. More specific requests happen in interactions with the development folks.

Soxmom, I do ask (and have always been given the info.), because I would not want to be receiving any subsidies unwittingly, and because it helps us size our giving. I have wondered why the gap number is not plastered all over. I thought maybe they worry that some might consider the delta too daunting, and not give at all? Because they certainly do want to get the participation rate up, as that is a key question asked by donors, lenders, etc. Maybe it is easiest to just focus on getting everyone to participate at any level, and then hone in on a few of the more generous donors to get the dollars where they need to be.

MA2012, that’s a great idea. Hopefully it also instills in students the obligation to support the school themselves someday.

At any rate, sounds like BS are not shy about the gap numbers. If the norm is 30%, that is higher than what I have seen in our kids’ elementary schools, which is closer to 15%. I suppose that makes some sense, given that elementary schools tend not to have massive endowments and donor networks and can’t really take the same risk.

@6teenSearch D’s school spoke of the gap, which amounted to several thousands of dollars per pupil. When mentioned, it was always done so in an appropriate, straightforward way.

D’s school aspired to 100% giving in each class. They didn’t always make it, in part because I think some families would rather give no gift at all, than be embarrassed by a small gift, odd as this might seem. We always gave what we honestly could, which some years didn’t amount to much. But we never felt we were being judged. We did give a lot of volunteer hours to make up for some of the lean years, though.

Choate was always very specific about the gap in annual fund correspondence. The last figure I remember was somewhere north of $12K, and the letters always encouraged those who could do so to consider covering the gap for several students. OTOH, participation was key, even if it was only a dollar or two. No judgements.

Thanks everyone for your input.

For Choate, I saw an article… Will try to find it … That had the gap number at 20k, back when tuition was 45k. But, again I had to find it … When you google Annual Fund it does not jump out at you.

We are fortunate enough to be able to cover FP and full costs but with multiple kids and four years each, I’m curious to know what would be expected of a generous family. It adds up pretty quickly, especially if the delta is twice what we have seen in elementary school. It just raises the bar if you want to be a donor above and beyond covering your kids full freight.

I wonder if these calculations are all done on the same basis…

My recollection is that the shortfall at Hotchkiss is something in the low $20k range. Probably fairly standard for schools of that size. I think all these schools cost roughly the same amount to run and the tuitions are roughly the same, so the variation in tuition gap can’t be too dramatic. I wouldn’t worry about what is “expected” of a family with ample means; the schools are grateful for whatever you give. And remember that the dynamic among families of students is very different than at a private day school, because most families don’t know each other. I think it’s pretty common that at the well known private day schools in NY and other affluent areas, at least some families pay a lot of attention to whose names appear where on the list of donors. It certainly wouldn’t surprise me to learn that some people feel some social pressure to “keep up with the Joneses” (or the Rockefellers) in those environments. But I don’t think that dynamic really exists at boarding schools.