Giving trends in independent schools nysais advancement conference
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Giving Trends in Independent Schools NYSAIS Advancement Conference. Kathleen Hanson, Senior Consultant & Principal Leader: Schools’ Practice Group. Your planning committee asked me to address:. Is the amount of money for philanthropy getting smaller?

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Giving Trends in Independent Schools NYSAIS Advancement Conference

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Giving Trends in Independent SchoolsNYSAIS Advancement Conference

Kathleen Hanson, Senior Consultant & Principal

Leader: Schools’ Practice Group

Your planning committee asked me to address:

  • Is the amount of money for philanthropy getting smaller?

  • Are schools less of a priority when individuals are considering charitable giving?

  • Are people changing the areas they wish to give to in schools?

  • Are schools dealing with “culture clashes” with old versus new money

Many trends are regional………….

  • Certainly impact of the recession created less giving among some segments of the school community

    • Loss of jobs

    • Loss of bonus

    • Real Estate Market

    • Multiple tuitions in the school

Some trends relate to the age of the school

  • Younger schools which rely almost completely on current parent and grandparent giving felt the downturn in the market

  • Elementary schools felt both the downturn in enrollment and giving – families feeling that a public option would be “acceptable” for a younger child

Is the bucket of dollars smaller?

  • According to the Federal Reserve

  • The median household lost nearly 39% of its wealth from 2007 to 2010

  • Income among the richest 10% of Americans fell 7.7%

Yet …….

  • In 2010 there were 15 gifts of $50 million + to higher education

  • In 2011 there were 6 gifts of $50 million + to higher education

  • No data for independent schools


  • Donors of mega gifts are giving – for them the market volatility is the “new normal” and they are moving on

  • Traditional major gift bands (six figure gifts) are more problematic – they are worrying about retirement assets, unemployed children and grandchildren and the ability to fulfill a pledge over time.

A Marts & Lundy Special Report – State of Philanthropy 2008 to 2011

  • In Independent Schools: Cash for operating support shows growth of 4% in unrestricted gifts and even more robust growth of 10% in restricted gifts.

  • Why the more robust growth in unrestricted? Shift in donor attitudes where donors favor a gift to a specific institutional priority over unrestricted annual fund appeals

Same report for independent schools

  • Cash for capital support, (FY2011 over FY 2009) has increased 16% for endowment while gifts for facilities have decreased 17%

  • Still, giving has not rebounded to the 2008 levels –despite increases

Is a smaller bucket of wealth the only problem?

  • While the economy and re-distribution of wealth are key factors in what we are seeing, we also suggest a third factor which is impacting results and that is institutional perspectives and allocation of resources within the advancement program.

Donor attitudes

  • Donor attitudes has shifted but institutional messaging and donor engagement has been slow to adapt.

  • Some schools act as if they are victims of circumstances

  • Others are defying all odds and enjoying record years

Distinguishing Characteristics

  • Enlightened leadership

  • Within advancement and within the school

  • Define the role you wish philanthropy to play in the life of the school

  • Invest in it

  • Volunteer Leaders in Philanthropy engage at the highest level

  • Recognize: Donors want engagement and conversation over informing and educating

Are schools less of a priority for donors?

  • Many schools are under soliciting (not enough volunteer help and the culture doesn’t support staff soliciting)

  • Schools that emphasized transactional giving suffered during the recession

    • Little identification and engagement of donors

  • Schools that presented “Ideas” which created solutions and had a positive impact on teaching and learning suffered far less – in fact, many have achieved great success in both annual and capital giving.

  • Schools that can answer the “Why?”

  • Bottom line is Value

    • Do your donors value the contribution you are making to students and/or the community?

    • Can you illustrate that the results of philanthropy provide you with the resources to do significantly more for student learning and program innovation?

    An example………

    • NYC Day School

    • Institutional Expenses$32,932,000

    • Endowment 113,200,000

    • Draw (5%) 5,660,000

    • Gifts to current operating 5,025,000

    • Draw + gifts to operating 10,685,470

    • Draw/operating as % of IE 32.4%

    Another example

    • MA Boarding School

    • Institutional Expenses47,103,500

    • Endowment 387,500,000

    • Draw (5%) 18,375,000

    • Gifts to current operating 5,188,626

    • Draw + gifts to operating 23,563,626

    • Draw/operating as % of IE 50%

    Are donors changing where they want to give within schools?

    • Yes, for many, particularly within the annual fund

    • Donors want to have an impact with their gift

    • Donors want $$ directed at people and programs more than facilities

      • Great emphasis on giving which supports faculty

      • Current parent donors recognize the need for adaptation and innovation

    Giving to endowment

    • More likely that gifts from alumni will be directed to endowment

    • Current parents need a great deal of conversation and engagement to understand the value of endowment

    • Some donors today are believe each generation gives to immediate programming needs, not endowment

    Culture Clashes – Old versus New Money

    • Old versus new and more

      • Self – made wealth often wants “immediacy” and “impact”

      • Challenges

    • Non native-born donors

      Lack of familiarity with mainstream American

      philanthropy systems & structure

    International Fund Raising

    • Families of current International students

      • Many boarding schools are having great success

      • There are steps to follow for success

  • International alumni

    • Involvement from graduation on is imperative

    • Membership on governing boards

  • Schools with egalitarian cultures

    • Resistance to high levels of recognition

    • Desire that all events are inclusive

    • Lack of culture of philanthropy

    Bottom Line

    • Three essential elements:

    • Case for support

    • Constituency that is engaged in meaningful conversation with the school

    • Catalysts – Staff and volunteers who move the program forward

    • Q and A

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