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Get Ahead for Next School Year While Winding Down This One: Five Steps to Grow Your School Annual Fu

Successful school annual funds bridge the gap between students paying hefty tuition fees for operational expenses. In the National Catholic Education Association’s latest Annual Report, school annual funds contributed an average of $31,000 to school operations while endowment funds contributed an additional $26,000. Yet, only 30% of elementary schools receive private funding. An average of 32% of elementary students at EACH school surveyed requested financial aid, and this number is trending upwards.

With only 25% of schools surveyed having a development director, and half of them being only part-time, maximizing your volunteer committee’s time and efforts are critical.

Not a Catholic school? These tips apply to fundraising for independent schools and even public schools.

1. Recruit a Strong Volunteer Committee

Do you have the right people sitting around the table to organize and implement your activities? Engage an influential representative of each constituency. Define their roles and responsibilities and give them ownership of the activities to inspire their peers to contribute.

2. Establish a Timeline with Deadlines

Determine when you will focus your messaging efforts for each constituency. If you are a parish school, be sure to confer with the parish calendar so that parishioners aren’t being bombarded with competing requests. Build cultivation and request opportunities surrounding events that already exist within your school calendar, i.e. School Orientations and Open Houses, Grandparents’ Day, Catholic Schools Week, etc. Each constituency should have benchmark goals with follow up strategy deadlines to help create urgency and move the donors to action.

3. Craft Your Case for Support and Design a Plan to Communicate

Define the elements that your School Annual Fund will support whether it’s a combination of tuition assistance, innovative programming, technology, or faculty professional development. Include multi-media approaches for each audience. Develop an acknowledgement system and plan for impact reporting.

4. Train Your Volunteers

Ensure that your volunteers know the case for support, understand what they are asking for, how to make the request, and the timeline for which they are garnering support.

5. Evaluate Strategies

What worked and what didn’t? Are there any gaps in your communication/opportunities to give within any of your targeted audiences? Did one methodology work better than another? Review your donor data. Who gave before, but didn’t give this year? Can you inspire donors to subscribe to monthly giving which they continue beyond the duration of their student’s enrollment? Who might you meet with to inspire greater investment in your mission?

Need help getting your School Annual Fund to Take Root? Visit us at and shoot us a question or inquiry.

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