To increase donor participation and reach their 88 percent goal, the Country Day Annual Fund has been trying out new fundraising methods.
The goal for the past few years has been 100 percent participation from parents, according to Annual Fund co-chair Elizabeth Monasa. However, in the 2015-16 school year, the class participation average was only 68 percent and in the 2014-15 school year, 61 percent.
So this year, director of advancement Carolyn Woolf decided to set the goal at a more realistic 88 percent.
And it looks as though they’re going to meet it.
“I’m sure we’re going to hit 88 percent,” Monasa said. “We’re at 87.5 right now. We could probably hit over 90 because we have until June 30.”
The Annual Fund collects donations until June 30, the end of the fiscal year. However, their fundraising starts in September.
One new fundraising method, grade representatives, actually began in the 2015-16 school year under previous director of advancement Jon Cormier.
The grade representatives are parents from each grade who communicate information from the development office to the rest of the parents in their grade.
“The whole grade rep concept had been around for a couple of years and talked about, but it was never implemented before Jon,” Monasa said.
“When you’re getting emails from parents that you know, it just has a little bit more of an impact than getting emails from the development office.”
However, in November of this school year, participation was at only 55 percent, still not where Monasa, Woolf and co-chair Ethan Jackson hoped it would be.
So they started the Cavalier Cup challenge, a battle between the grades in each section of the school (lower, middle and high). The game pitted class against class to see which three grades could reach the highest percentage of participation.
The winners received different prizes: Cookie Connection cookies for the lower school, Pinkberry yogurt for the middle school and IHOP pancakes for the high school.
Although the Cavalier Cup challenge and grade reps increased participation, Jackson also attributes this year’s success to getting an earlier start and putting out a higher volume of information.
“(Parents) were better informed about what the Annual Fund means, where the monies go and what their participation means for the overall goal,” Jackson said.
“I think there were misconceptions before (this year), and a lot of people had this feeling that, ‘Wow, I pay all this money to go to this school, and now you want more?’”
“The Annual Fund is a delicate balance. We hope that everyone will see the value of participating, but we also want to respect people’s personal choice.”
So where does the money go?
A brochure sent to parents in September stated that the 2016-17 Annual Fund monies will go to student-centered support, faculty professional growth and community engagement.
These categories include things like “social and emotional learning” for students, enabling faculty to “collaborate with peer schools” and “providing (students) opportunities for real-world career exploration,” like the summer internship program for high-school students.
“The Annual Fund isn’t used for paying the electric bill,” Monasa said.
One use for the money came last summer, when third-grade teachers Anita Kassel and Kristi Mathisen attended a weeklong colonial conference in Williamsburg, Virginia, to learn how to enhance their students’ Colonial Day experience.
—By Sahej Claire