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Changing the Story of Funding for America's Schools
by TOM SUDDES December 10, 2010

Five years or so ago, I spoke at a fairly large gathering of 'Public Educators', mostly principals of public high schools and some district superintendents. (Nick claims I ranted like Tom Peters on serious medication. He also says they all looked at me as if I were 'crazy'. Who would have guessed?)

Essence of my message was:

Almost every public high school is having FUNDING CHALLENGES. Levies passed or not passed. Cutting budgets. Dropping co-curricular activities. Pay to play, etc.

The Big Idea: PUBLIC education vs. public EDUCATION. It's all about the students.

I do not understand why a public high school or a public school system is any different than a Private School, a Catholic School or a Charter School.

In our world, when you need more money (INCOME)… you go out and present your IMPACT (Story and Message)… and JUST ASK!

Twenty-five years ago, public colleges and universities received almost 100% of their money from government (the State Legislature). Here's the 'need'. Appropriate the funds. Operate.

Today, Ohio State University just finished a multi-billion dollar 'campaign'… and every 'public' college and university has a development operation and raising a lot of money. 'Development' is just as integral and critical to the success of a 'public' institution as it is to 'private' education.

Which brings us to public high schools and elementary schools.

Raffles. Chocolate bar sales. Car washes. Advertising on the fence or scoreboard at the stadium. This is not a way to fund huge 'GAPS' in delivering or improving the quality of education for the students.

Almost every public school district I'm familiar with has created a (name of school system) EDUCATION FOUNDATION. No staff. No plan. No money.

Why are public educators and supposed leaders not implementing a Funding Model and Funding Plan that includes the 'private sector'???

If you're familiar with a local public system and have any thoughts on this, let me know.

for original article, click here.

Ashland board hears pros on starting schools foundation
by GINGER CHRIST September 14, 2010
Times Gazette Staff Writer

Ashland City Schools could be ramping up its efforts to solicit philanthropic giving.

Too often, charitable giving is explored predominantly in the collegiate world, Jeffrey Strine of Dublin-based On Target Management Group said Monday during a board of education work session.

Strine, who gave a presentation on the establishment of a districtwide schools foundation, said such foundations offer advantages to public school districts, which could benefit from unrestricted revenue streams.

"What we're about is really trying to create a culture of philanthropy," Strine said. "The fundamental really is getting an annual giving campaign in place."

Such foundations typically are operated as nonprofit organizations with independent governing boards, which are comprised of members of the community and the district administration team, Strine said.

While board member Jim Wolfe characterized the creation of an endowment "a worthy concept," he said the district's focus should be on attracting directed donors to financially support the facilities plan.

Board member Rick Ewing suggested the efforts made to attract donors for the facilities plan could become the genesis for a schools foundation.

The board's innovation subcommittee will further discuss the issue to decide whether action to create a schools foundation should be taken.

The board also discussed its plans regarding the 1.25-mill permanent improvement renewal levy that will be placed on the November ballot.

The levy, which if approved would raise no new taxes and would collect about $536,000, expires at the end of 2011. Money annually collected on the levy is used to fund maintenance projects and other improvements within the district with long-lasting effects.

"I think we've been good stewards of the money. It's not been wasted. It's not been overspent," board President Bryan Lefelhoc said.

Superintendent Mark Robinson said he plans to contact the Citizens for Ashland City Schools, a previously established levy committee, to discuss levy plans.

In other business, the board reviewed the district's performance -- an effective rating -- on the state report card. The board will hear presentations from the principals at each of the district's seven school buildings during its September and October board meetings. At that time, principals will be charged with explaining their plans to improve their school's performance.

The board entered executive session to consider the purchase of property for public purposes or for the sale of property at competitive bidding and to discuss employment of a public employee or official.

Ginger Christ can be reached at 419-281-0581, ext. 239, or at gchrist@times-gazette.com.

Philanthropy-Oriented Development
by Jeff Strine July 15, 2010

I’m often asked by the schools that we work with “How would you organize our development office so that we can make more money?” The reality in most of these situations is that these development offices are usually significantly underfunded and under-resourced. Even though the demand from the board room and business office is that more non-tuition money is needed – and fast, the budgets and resources allocated to the challenge often remain woefully inadequate.

So how should you organize if the budgets don’t get increased and the resources remain less than you would like? Optimal organization requires an alignment of the (limited) resources that are available, with the most strategically important activities – those that will maximize development revenues in the short term and the long term. If the activities are not the right activities, then it won’t be possible to maximize development revenues. In many situations, schools are simply not focused on the right activities.


Philanthropic activities, or those that generate a philanthropic response from donors, are the key to achieving the greatest development results.

So what is philanthropy? The root words come from the Greek philos and anthropos which translate roughly into English as “for the good of humankind”. Thus, it is not necessarily a requirement for a philanthropist to be wealthy. The only real requirement is that a philanthropist be interested in helping humankind. Many of the world’s best philanthropists are poor – by definition they are giving or have given most everything to impact causes that are important to them.

Philanthropy is attracted to missions and causes. And, philanthropy is the key to the most significant financial gifts.

Philanthropic vs. Transaction-Based Activities

Why the discussion on philanthropy when the issue is one of aligning development office resources and activities? In order to achieve the kind of lift in giving required to transform a school’s financial position, the development staff and their activities must be fundamentally rooted in the search for philanthropy and philanthropists. They should not be transaction-based. Raffle tickets, bingo, candy sales, wrapping paper, Christmas trees at Christmas, pumpkins at Thanksgiving, and fashionshows are all examples of non-philanthropic, transaction-based activities that may be taking time away from more important development tasks. Unfortunately, many school development calendars move from one fundraiser to the next.

Certainly money can be raised by conducting such transaction-based activities – thank God for sending large numbers of bingo players through the years. They have kept many Catholic schools alive! But, bingo is not philanthropy. And the well-meaning but time-consuming work needed to generate a fractional margin from a raffle ticket or a pumpkin sale will not generate the funding needed to keep tuitions low, pay faculties more, or build bigger endowments. In fact, these activities have nothing at all to do with building and deepening relationships with philanthropic alumni, parents, past parents, or friends.

Creating a Culture of Philanthropy

Organize the development office to create a culture of philanthropy. You will need a solid data mining and management function, and you will need at least one or two good relationship managers (we call them Major Gift Officers in the development world). With these two functions in place, your small and under funded development operation will be able to make great headway in its quest for transformational giving. The fashion show can come later.

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