Updated: Mar 6, 2021
I was talking to a charter school leader the other day who just found out how much the state is expected to cut school funding. She says charter school leaders are in a panic about what this means to their programs. Some are already talking about the possibility of having to close their schools permanently. Others are paralyzed by lack of information and clear guidance from those who are making these decisions. Some are frustrated by inequities in the way federal funds are being disbursed. Many are desperately looking for help.
School leaders are facing budget cuts and potential enrollment losses on one side, and unexpected expenses for digital learning and new health and safety requirements on the other. How can schools find new funding to meet these needs? What’s your plan?
What We Know about Giving in Tough Times
People have been tracking patterns of giving for decades. I’ve been studying the data from GivingUSA. They can tell you that, yes, during tough times people give less, but they still give some. Following the 2008 Recession, donations by individuals dropped by 7% per year for two years. The good news is that with the economic recovery, individual donations have been rising again and reached the highest levels ever in 2019.
Where did they give? 14% of individual donations went to education, which is the second highest percentage (religious organizations came in first). 12% of gifts went to grantmakers, which means those foundations that offer grants. So directly or indirectly, through donations or through grants, schools can be the beneficiaries of a lot of that giving.
So what will the net result be for 2020? No one can say. Since individual donations make up 69% of all giving, and we know that many individuals are seeing adverse financial effects from the COVID19 Pandemic, we can expect to see a drop. We just don’t know how much or for how long.
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Foundations are shifting focus to deal with the pandemic like everyone else. Some foundations have paused their grant programs as they re-evaluate their priorities. Others have quickly shifted their grant programs to target COVID19-related neds. Grants are available for schools today, but competition is likely to be fierce. As the impact of the pandemic becomes clearer, nonprofits are feeling the strain. A recent report shows a significant loss of jobs in the nonprofit sector and this is sure to impact the amount, availability, and timing of grants in the near future.
Learn more about nonprofit layoffs here:
What We Can Do Now to Prepare for Tough Times
I’ve been exploring the topic of supplemental funding for schools recently, and I’d like to share links to these important articles. Learn to manage your fundraising efforts like nonprofit organizations do, and you’ll be far ahead of most other schools. Add an effective grant writing program to your plan, and you’ll be ready to take control of your school’s budget.
Learn more with
Fearless Funding: 30 Day Challenge for Charter Schools
Get ready to improve your fundraising results with daily tasks you can fit into your busy schedule.
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How to Engage Your Community in the 4Ts of Giving
Uncertainty has a negative impact on giving, but people ARE giving to causes that move them. Find authentic ways to engage your community. Don’t approach fundraising with a hand out for the money. Think of it as building relationships with people who share your goals and values.
Nonprofits talk about the 4Ts of giving, but charter schools don’t often think this way. Consider your volunteers and donors. Are you celebrating the many ways they give? How can you maximize the value of what they give, and encourage them to engage more deeply with your school? Let’s look at the 4 Ts.
Time (volunteer hours of any type)
Talent (volunteering specialized talents that serve the school)
Treasure (donations from individuals or businesses)
Testimonials (reviews, ratings, referrals, and recruiting)
Parents and community members who are engaged across at least two of the four Ts are more likely to stay with you. Connect more deeply with your volunteers. Learn how to develop donation programs, grant proposals, and business partnerships that will sustain your school through these tough times.
Download this free infographic to remind you to encourage your community to engage deeply with your school for maximum connection. The 4Ts of Giving for Charter Schools
Check out these helpful books on Amazon to learn more about fundraising for your school.
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My Mission: to help 100 school leaders write successful grants in the next 5 years, empowering you to create and lead the schools you envision.
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