Mission Based Fundraising

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Running a successful fundraising campaign is not a mystery science in the world of non-profits. It shouldn’t be in the Waldorf school either. There are basic principles that apply to getting people involved in the mission of the school and finding ways for them to help. In addition, basic training in fundraising is available through many organizations. The important thing is that the school develops a fundraising plan and devotes sufficient resources to making it work. Fundraising doesn’t occur consistently through wishful thinking.

It takes a concerted effort by the community to develop the vision and discipline that will attract funding. First, the community needs to get clear about what it does. Then it needs to find ways to let people know that is both inviting and yet leaves them free to join or not join, to give or not give. Most importantly, the school needs to keep friends feeling connected to the mission of the school until they are ready and able to give.

A mission-based fundraising program thus consists of 1. Developing the school’s message; 2. Delivering it to as many community members as possible; and 3. Cultivating the friendships of those who find the message compelling. If these 3 steps can be carried out consistently, then the vital 4th step-asking for the money-isn’t an awkward moment but a shared celebration.

To accomplish these goals, many schools have found that professional training and development is essential. If your school doesn’t have a professionally trained development director who can in turn train his or her staff, then it behooves the school to provide that training if it is to develop a culture of giving in the school. Developing a “giving culture” requires an artistic blending of inspirational communication, clear description of the needs and a great deal of trust between the school and potential donors regarding the responsible management of all resources. The more this culture permeates the school down to every staff member, the more successful will fundraising become. It won’t just happen.

Sources for this type of training can be found in many places. Many libraries have a “non-profit resource center.” Some schools have had success with the Raising More Money model, as another example, but the important thing is that there is someone in charge of keeping fundraising and development work at the forefront of every conversation. Rudolf Steiner said that the spiritual-cultural sphere is supported through a negotiation with the economic sphere. The very life of the school is thus dependent on developing that conversation to its highest level.

Association of Waldorf Schools of North America
Effective Practices Research Project
DEV Document DEV 2-2

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