I just mailed our second annual Veritas Classical Academy year-end letter, asking our families to prayerfully consider again raising $24,000 for our Scholarship Fund. Last year was the first year Veritas had ever done something like this, and through the generosity of our community, we hit our goal after a frenetic last-minute giving rush on New Year's Eve, along with a few extra gifts in January that pushed us over the top.
As a result of last year's giving, we were able to help ten families – most with multiple children – attend Veritas who wouldn't have been able to otherwise. That was pretty neat for all involved, not for only the families who benefitted, but for the families who weren't sure we could do it but gave anyway.
Though my dual role as Upper School Principal complicates things, as Head of School, I need to be fundraising more than I currently am. Why? Because in addition to our scholarship fund, we have literally millions of dollars to raise for our planned Learning Cottage Campus(es), start-up funds to provide for the Athletic and Arts we're trying to launch, and developmental monies to come up with for more Staff Resources (training conferences, classroom items, etc.). We also have a nine-years-accumulated deficit (not a debt – we don't owe anyone but ourselves) that we'd like to put to bed soon.
Thus, as with any endeavor like ours, we need money. But in saying this, our board and I remain committed to two things: 1) We're not going to force tuition to cover any capital plans (no one could afford what that would cost annually); and 2) We're not going to resort to just any and every fundraising "opportunity" that comes along (believe me when I tell you there
are plenty of things we could sell in the name of fundraising for
Veritas; here's a list if you're interested).
To do either can be tempting, particularly at this time of year as we make plans and finalize budgets for next year. Our process begins in September (just after we get the current school year up and going), and takes several months at multiple levels (board, Head of School, administrative team) to get our heads and hands around all that goes into what is now a 1.1 million dollar operation. I don't say this pridefully but desperately – we want to do right by our families and by God in how we think about the funds they provide for us to steward.
As part of this goal, we do all we can to consider our community when it comes to the frequency and means by which we raise money. I'm probably more conservative than some Heads of School on this (and may be holding us back a bit as a result), but I am hesitant to subject our families to multiple fundraising campaigns in which it seems we're always "selling something" for the good of the cause. It's not that I don't believe in our cause enough to do it; it's that I don't want to cheapen our cause by doing it.
While we raised a total of $120,000 in gifts and pledges last year for our new scholarship, staff development, and Constructing the Vision capital campaign funds, the critique is valid that I've done next to nothing to initiate smaller, ongoing community fundraisers throughout our school; in fact, the only two that I can think of (our WISE T-shirt sales at the beginning of the school year and our monthly Cafe Days) existed previous to my arrival at Veritas in 2011. Both seem to be things our families enjoy, so there's no need to change them (though I do think we've improved them a bit).
Instead, my philosophy (and what I think our families appreciate) is to provide a clear identification of what we need, an upfront presentation of what it's going to take to get it, and an unapologetic ask to prayerfully consider giving. Biblically speaking, that's really all I can and am willing to do; the rest is up to God and our families (and other donors we're communicating with) as to their response.
The challenge, of course, is getting all three aspects of said philosophy to happen in a timely and coordinated manner. We may have a need and create a good presentation for it, but I can't control if or how people give. Likewise, there are probably some folks (inside and outside of our community) who would give to what we need, but we have not figured out how to present those needs to them yet, or (just as likely) we have not figured out who they actually are.
Make no mistake: we do have needs and we do need people to give, but, as Mark 8:36 (applied here to the area of fundraising) reminds us, "What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?" Jesus is clear: the return on that kind of investment is not good. Giving to Veritas Classical Academy, however, should be.
(Another goal we have is to make giving as simple as possible. To that end, we've just launched our new online donation page. Check out how easy it is, and thanks for prayerfully considering giving a gift while you're there.)