“We have no money for that.”
“We just can’t afford it.”
“That is too expensive.”
As a school administrator, are these sentences you find yourself saying on a regular basis? Special Education costs money and plenty of it. You know you want to help your staff and students succeed, but there are no workarounds to financial reality. So how about a way to change those realities?
Schools are now starting foundations. Why? There are several benefits to having a foundation do the fundraising for a school. The foundation handles the administration of major gifts, distribution of funds, coordination of fundraising, and training to help staff, volunteers, and others raise money. As a separate non-profit, a foundation can focus solely on strategizing and extra efforts to bring in the most money possible.
Keep in mind that independent and volunteer-based foundations should be established as 501c3 non-profits to allow tax write-offs for donor contributions. The foundation will not only raise money; it acts as a public relations vehicle for the district. Foundations create ties with the business community. The businesses see what their money is supporting, they see the needs and then become cheerleaders for the district.
So how do you get the ball rolling?
The National School Foundation Association (NSFA) offers these guidelines for establishing a foundation.
1. Identify the need for a foundation and start identifying potential donors. Questionnaires can be used to determine interest of various community members. Write questions to find out their opinion about the necessity of an educational foundation, and also if they are willing to contribute to its success.
2. Choose an initiator of the project; perhaps the school superintendent. He/she must make sure to involve school administration, get community support, identify issues to be addressed, use a testimonial, and establish a bank account for funds to be used to create the foundation.
3. Select a foundation format and determine if it will serve the district or only a particular school. Decide if it the foundation will be established as a trust or the more common format, a nonprofit corporation.
4. Establish a team comprised of the initiator, business owners, school board members, and school personnel. It's crucial to involve people who work within the community.
5. Create a statement of purpose and objectives, making sure the purpose has a universal meaning and that the objectives thoroughly express the purpose in specific terms.
However, where do you find donors? The NSFA says individual donors represent 84 percent of the money given away in the U.S. Schools need to look for wealthy and notable alumni and connect with them. Remember, donors who buy into a project and understand its value will continue to support it, even - or especially - in tough times because they recognize the importance.
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