Annual Fund donations increase 20% but fall short of ambitious 100% goal

(Photo used by permission of Amy Wells)
The junior class, with 83 percent class participation, was rewarded with Pinkberry frozen yogurt on Jan. 26 as a thank you from the Annual Fund team, which they enjoyed after the lower and middle school winners in the M.P. Room. There were four flavors – original, chocolate, pomegranate and orange – but the chocolate flavor ran out before the juniors arrived.

Reaching 88.6 percent participation, the Annual Fund this year has had the most success in school history, according to recent statistics provided by new director of advancement Carolyn Woolf.

The Annual Fund is a donation fundraiser run by the school every year to supplement its budget and to finance the school.

Participation increased 20 percent from last year’s 68 percent.

The changes to the program in recent years are in part due to the change in leadership, with the introduction of Woolf who worked with director of communications Julie Nelson, Annual Fund director Amy Wells, the rest of the administration and the Board of Trustees to improve school-wide participation.

The program was also headed by Annual Fund parent co-chairs Elizabeth Monasa and Ethan Jackson, both parents of lower and middle school students.

This year, the Annual Fund team pushed for 100 percent participation by offering a “Snow Day” on Feb. 16 to students if they met the goal. Donating was also encouraged through a “100 Days of Giving” campaign. The campaign encouraged families to donate in the 100 days leading up to the Snow Day.

Snow Day was promoted in a video sent to parents, featuring head of school Lee Thomsen and assistant head of school Tucker Foehl, explaining the day, which was to include winter activities and free food for the students, starting with a school-wide pancake breakfast. The students were also promised an early dismissal on Snow Day.

According to Woolf, the school had planned to have an ASE program available for the families that preferred picking up their children at the usual hours.

“We (were) trying to make the campaign fun,” Woolf said. “It’s like a marketing campaign for the Annual Fund.”

Because the 100 percent goal was not reached, students instead received a pajama day on Feb. 16.

The Annual Fund team chose to do a pajama day because it was one of the original elements of the Snow Day, Thomsen said.

To plan for future fund campaigns, the annual fund team sent out polls to all families before publishing the 2017-18 Annual Fund Report. However, only 63 families responded. Of the three non-donors in this group, two answered that they did not donate because they were unsure of how the fund would be used.

To help address that concern, Woolf said she introduced Annual Fund designations this year, so families could choose from six categories where their money will go.

These categories, in order of most donations, were “area of greatest need” (determined by school), tuition assistance, faculty support and professional development, performing and visual arts, innovation and technology, and athletics and physical education.

Woolf also said she plans to continue what has been done in the past and send out an Annual Fund “Impact Report,” showing how donations were used in the previous year.

In addition, the school is planning a thank-you event honoring those who participated in the fund at Open House (Thursday, May 3), but they’re unsure yet of what the event will be.

Although the entire school did not reach its 100 percent goal, many individual classes reached the goal.

The kindergarten, third, fourth and fifth grade classes all reached 100 percent participation. In the high school, the highest participation was in the junior class, with 83 percent. In the middle school, the sixth grade class participated the most, with 98 percent.

These six classes were awarded free Pinkberry frozen yogurt.

The Annual Fund team plans on continuing these kinds of incentives next year.

“Maybe next year the goal will be around 90 or 95 percent (participation),” Woolf said.

She and the team also want to include parents as much as possible.

According to Woolf, the school will host a free barbecue with beer and wine for the school parents; however, the date is not yet finalized.

“We love when our parents get involved at the grade levels,” Woolf said.

By Mehdi Lacombe

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