Although fundraising is important for the well-being of Adventist schools, it can be surprisingly tricky. Understanding the principles that make fundraising more effective can help. Ideally, philanthropy represents doing good things for the right motives. People give and continue to give for a large number of reasons, too numerous to mention in a short article, but there are two principles I find particularly helpful for fundraising efforts.
Match Requests to Donor’s Hearts
When speaking to prospective donors, make sure you understand the heart and motives of the person you are asking to give and try to match the personality with the needs of the school. I have found during my years of raising money for church schools and universities that different projects appeal to the different personalities. I have met those who will not give to a new building or put money into an endowment but will give generously to the immediate need of a student who is in real need of this semester’s tuition. There are others who want to see their gifts live on through bricks and mortar or an endowment that continues to give year after year.
Focus Fundraising Campaigns on Student Needs
The school and administration also need to think carefully about the goals and purpose of their requests. Projects that help students directly have greater appeal than general needs. In choosing a project, an educator can often see a real need. Sometimes that need is more for the benefit of the teacher than the children. Teachers have real needs, such as new work computers. Although such needs are worthy, they are best handled by the board or by seeking a single donor to assist. Major fundraising campaigns should focus on projects that will assist many or all students in the school and have a wide appeal to many donors.
Teachers in Adventist Schools are master builders, and we exercise great care and caution in building young lives. Each student is a unique and special person, a gift of life in the form of a young man or woman. Each is a life building toward a special destiny God is preparing. The projects we choose and ask others to give towards must reflect the goals and purpose of education.