As the pressure increases to build out school campuses and increase programmatic offerings, independent school advancement programs have been required to step up their game. And it appears their efforts are paying off.
Last month, our president Keith Curtis, immediate past chair of Giving USA Foundation, shared the big-picture findings of Giving USA 2016: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2015. The report showed a record level of giving in the United States—an estimated $373.25 billion. We were pleased to see that this total represented an overall 4.1% increase over 2014. As we look deeper into the report, there’s more good news for the education sector— and independent schools in particular.
DRILLING DOWN TO THE EDUCATION SECTOR
Giving to education marked its sixth consecutive year of growth in 2015. Also of note:
• Giving to education experienced an average annual rate of growth of 6.4% in the last five-year period (2011 to 2015).
• Education was the third-fastest growing out of nine sectors.
• Education remains the leading recipient of donations from ultra-high-net-worth individuals, according to a 2015 study by Wealth-X and Arton Capital.
• Independent K–12 schools saw a slight decline in alumni participation, but an increase in median gifts.
A GOOD YEAR FOR INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS
Fundraising professionals from precollegiate independent schools saw more positive fundraising results than did those from private or public higher education institutions in 2015, according to the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) Fundraising Index (CFI). Independent schools in the survey reported a 5.9% increase in fundraising results between 2014 and 2015.
LARGE CAMPAIGNS DRIVING INCREASES
More educational institutions saw positive fundraising results in 2015, compared with 2014. Of all sectors, education had the greatest percentage of organizations reporting the highest campaign goals—educational organizations of all types launched large-scale campaigns in 2015. Of educational institutions surveyed in a special campaign study by the Nonprofit Research Collaborative:
• 43% were engaged in capital, comprehensive or endowment campaigns as of August 2015.
• 18% were engaged in special campaigns.
• 53% reported a goal of $18 million or higher.
ONLINE GIVING VERY STRONG
Three different reports noted positive results for online giving to education in 2015. K-12 organizations analyzed by Blackbaud experienced double-digit growth in online giving (12.3%). These institutions realized their greatest year-over-year monthly increases in online charitable revenue in the three-month period ending in May (24.1 percent), while growth in giving to these organizations reached its lowest point in February (7.2 percent).
NEXT STEPS FOR YOUR SCHOOL
Articulating your vision is key to receiving transformational gifts. Your case for support and detailed opportunities for philanthropic investment must be rooted in the overall vision for the institution and the expression of that vision by the head of school. It’s important to follow these steps:
1. Complete a strategic planning process that clearly communicates your institution’s vision and the goals that will implement this vision.
2. Determine the philanthropic investment priorities that are needed to achieve the vision, including current and aspirational needs.
3. Engage internal and external leaders in vetting these philanthropic priorities and illustrating the outcomes and impacts of transformational giving.
4. If a campaign may be on the horizon for your school, this information will be key in developing your case for support. If you’d like to talk more about planning for a campaign, call me! 757-496-2224.