Effective Practices : Governance
Governance Section 4
1. Although a Waldorf school does not sell products and services, the gesture of brotherhood is usually alive and well evidenced in our schools. Has the Board of Trustees delegated responsibility for community building and fund development to an individual or group at the school? If so outline the extent of the group’s and/or individual’s responsibility, what decision making authority is possesses, and any specific limitations that have been placed on the exercise of authority in the areas of friend and fund raising.
2. It has been said that the teacher incarnates the child but that parents incarnate the school. Describe the manner in which the parent body supports the incarnation of the school in their gifts of work, wealth and wisdom. What authority and responsibility have been delegated to the parent body or parent association in this area?
3. Oftentimes a Board will create an office of development to coordinate the fund and friend raising efforts with parents and the larger community. Describe the office of development at your school and the manner in which individuals are selected for positions in this area.
4. Has the Board of Trustees retained any brotherhood (development) functions in the Board? If yes, which functions does it retain and why?
5. Describe the committees that work in the area of brotherhood at your school. List their general responsibilities and any limitations that have been placed on their authority.
6. Describe the manner and frequency with which the fund and friend raising sphere is evaluated at your school. Note also the frequency and manner in which the development office staff members are evaluated.
7. What is your school’s philosophy with regard to the brotherhood realm in your school? What guiding lights inform the way in which the friend and fund raising activities are conducted?
8. What is working particularly well in your school with regard to its work in the realm of brotherhood?
9. If there were something that you could change with regard to your brotherhood organization, what would it be and why?
Although a Waldorf school does not sell products and services, the gesture of brotherhood is usually alive and well evidenced in our schools. Has the Board of Trustees delegated responsibility for community building and fund development to an individual or group at the school? If so outline the extent of the group’s and/or individual’s responsibility, what decision making authority is possesses, and any specific limitations that have been placed on the exercise of authority in the areas of friend and fund raising.
The responsibility for community building and fund development is generally delegated by the Board of Trustees to the Director of Development. The Director of Development is assisted in her work by a Development Committee. In most cases the Director of Development is the chair of the Development Committee and is responsible for overseeing the committee’s work and staffing the committee with capable volunteers from the school community.
The Director of Development is responsible, with and through the Development Committee, for coordinating most fund raising and friend raising activities at the school. These activities include annual giving, a major fundraiser such as an auction, and various events which are often coordinated in conjunction with the parent association. The Director of Development is also frequently responsible for the outreach, publicity and advertising functions at the school. She typically enjoys a high level of autonomy in conducting her work, with the Board providing approval for the general development budget (income and operating expenses) and other major decisions such as whether to conduct a capital campaign, to hire an outside consulting firm, or other matters that require a significant outlay of cash.
In the past the Director of Development frequently reported to the Board of Trustees through the Administrative Director of the School. With increasing frequency we are seeing today a move to have the Director of Development and the Administrative Director serve as peers with both reporting separately to the Trustees. Often in these cases the Director of Development and the Administrative Director will serve with the pedagogical leaders of the school (Pedagogical Chair, College Chair, etc.) on the school’s Operations Committee. This Committee works cooperatively to coordinate the administrative oversight of the school’s ongoing operations.
It has been said that the teacher incarnates the child but that parents incarnate the school. Describe the manner in which the parent body supports the incarnation of the school in their gifts of work, wealth and wisdom. What authority and responsibility have been delegated to the parent body or parent association in this area?
Parent participation is a key factor in the success of a Waldorf school. As one school noted, “Activity changes a person’s relationship with the school, allowing a volunteer to go from saying ‘the school’ to ‘my school’”. In this light we see the importance of the Parent Association in its work to manage a number of important tasks in the life of the school. It is often the organ that welcomes new parents into the school community through welcome teas and the creation of a new-parent buddy system. It provides important support to the teachers through its room representative structure, helping to coordinate class parent evenings, class parties, and class activities such as field trips and camping trips. The Parent Association also works in conjunction with the faculty to offer adult education opportunities to parents interested in learning more about Waldorf education, child development and Anthroposophy. The Parent Association also helps with volunteer coordination for larger all-school events. In many schools the President of the Parent Association also serves on the Board of Trustees.
The position of Director of Development is often one of the last to be added in a school as it develops. Parent volunteers often lead the fund raising and friend raising efforts for many years before an office of Community Development is created. Similarly, during times of economic challenge a full time Director of Development and her staff may be the first areas reduced by budget cutting necessities, with the school returning to a reliance on parent volunteer support.
The Development Committee at a school varies in size but typically includes 10 to 12 members of the community. Often there are one or two Board members on the committee, one or two faculty members including at least one College member, a number of parents, and one or two alumni or alumni parents. The members of the Development Committee often serve as co-chairs of the various Development subcommittees at the school. These subcommittees (annual giving, alumni, auction, holiday fair, Spring Festival, Scrip, Grandparents’ Day, etc.) are each staffed with a number of parent volunteers. Through the Development Committee and its subcommittees a large number of parents have the opportunity to provide leadership in the areas of fundraising and friend-raising for the school.
Oftentimes a Board will create an office of development to coordinate the fund and friend raising efforts with parents and the larger community. Describe the office of development at your school and the manner in which individuals are selected for positions in this area.
The office of Community Development is typically led by the Director of Development. In a mature school this is a full time position and is supported by an additional 2.5 FTEs (full time equivalents) of staff. The manner in which the additional positions are configured varies from school to school, but might include:
- Full time Director of Outreach and Alumni (15 hours/week of alumni work and 25 hours/week on communication)
- Full time Director of Public Relations and Marketing
- Half time Development Assistant
Collateral materials produced in the Office of Development include the weekly bulletin, the quarterly newsletter, the school web site, the annual report, and promotional materials such as posters and flyers.
The Director of Development is typically hired by the Board of Trustees, while other members of the staff are hired by the Director of Development.
Has the Board of Trustees retained any brotherhood (development) functions in the Board? If yes, which functions does it retain and why?
In all schools there is an expectation that Board members will take a leadership role as individuals in fundraising by making gifts themselves and asking others for gifts. As a body the Board is involved in development through its approval of the budget related aspects of the development work. The Board approves goals for the year and any required major expenditures. Major changes to the school’s gift acceptance policy and other aspects of fundraising might be referred to the Board for approval.
In some schools the Development Committee is still considered a committee of the Board. This is often a reflection of the importance of development work and to the beginnings of the development effort as an all-volunteer led function. In these cases the Development Committee is often chaired by a Board member, but when a Director of Development is named she is the one who provides the administrative muscle in moving the work ahead.
Describe the committees that work in the area of brotherhood at your school. List their general responsibilities and any limitations that have been placed on their authority.
The Development Committee with its various subcommittees is one of the key committees for brotherhood activity in the school. It is described above in question 2.
Many schools also have a Communications Committee. The committee includes the Director of Development, the Director of PR & Marketing, the Director of Outreach and Alumni Relations, the Director of Enrollment and two or three members of the parent community with professional expertise in the areas of communication and marketing. The committee works to support the members of the development office staff in the creation of the school’s visual identity and communications efforts; it does not have separate responsibilities of its own.
Describe the manner and frequency with which the fund and friend raising sphere is evaluated at your school. Note also the frequency and manner in which the development office staff members are evaluated.
Members of the Development Department are evaluated once or twice a year. A self-evaluation and status report is prepared at mid-year and again at year end against a set of pre-established financial and non-financial goals.
The Development and Communications Committees do self reviews at year-end. The individual events and fund raising activities are reviewed by the Development Committee as each activity is completed to see if it met its expected goals and whether it served the school in the way in which it was intended.
Schools with an active strategic planning process update their plan every three to five years. This is the place where the school steps back and looks at its overall development strategy. Often time structural changes to the office of Community Development will come out of this larger, big picture review with implementation of changes taking place in the years and months to come.
What is your school’s philosophy with regard to the brotherhood realm in your school? What guiding lights inform the way in which the friend and fund raising activities are conducted?
We believe that fund raising and school advancement are achieved by developing community. The Board sees its role as that of steward for the school, and works through the development office to consciously cultivate people’s positive relationships to the school.
We try to hold the idea that money is spiritual, and that the funds we receive are a means of incarnating the education we want for our children. We want to enliven this development work so that it is organic and life giving, rather than one which feels cold and lifeless.
We work for a school that views children in a certain developmental perspective. The development of the school takes place in the same way; we see our work as one that allows the spirit of the school to incarnate.
We believe that if you do the right kinds of community building work then the money will flow into the school. It’s important to us to share what’s going on, to celebrate accomplishments, and to make every person who has ever belonged at the school feel like he or she still belongs and is always welcome on campus. We focus on building a sense of belonging and inclusiveness. We want people to feel good about the school and their relationship to it.
We believe that Waldorf education should be accessible for all, and so the focus in the development office is to raise funds to make tuition assistance possible for as many students as there is need.
Our school should be visible both inside and outside of the immediate school community, and we emphasize the work of the Communications office to ensure this takes place.
Every contribution counts regardless of size. Every time we interact with each other or the outside world, we are ambassadors for the school and its pedagogical and social mission.
We are working so that parents see the whole of the school, not just their child’s individual class.
What is working particularly well in your school with regard to its work in the realm of brotherhood?
The trust in the individual committees to do their work is very high. We approach work from the perspective of republican academies, and trust our colleagues to do the very best work on behalf of the school. We trust that people will do their work well and that they will do it for the whole school.
The effort and time that people are giving to this effort are incredible. A number of people give very generously of their time and successfully cultivate strong positive relationships for the school. As a result we are continuing to receive financial gifts in a very challenging economic climate.
Our communication to alumni is truly extraordinary. We really keep them in the loop. We have lots of great events that people love to attend. Our fall fair is a great friend raiser and community builder.
The development committee works well and is a great way to get people involved in the development work.
The parent council is a great link between the administration and the parent body, helping to eliminate the us/them mentality that can emerge.
We are gaining in the professionalism level of our employees in the development area.
Donor education is going well. The school has a new donor brochure which is used in conjunction with one from NAIS that explains to all parents the need for giving to the school.
If there were something that you could change with regard to your brotherhood organization, what would it be and why?
Our giving culture at the school produces large gifts from a selected group of people, but we are not supported by 100% of the parents. Our reality is that fewer than 60% of families support the school through financial gifts, and we would very much like to increase the level of participation in our annual fund and other fundraising efforts.
Data management and the tracking of gifts is difficult for us. We have a very sophisticated system which is too much for us to manage, especially with turnover in the development staff. Fully utilizing the system is difficult for us as a highly skilled person is required to serve as our database manager.
We very much want to get back to having additional staff in the development area, but this will not be the first addition that the school will make when finances improve.
I would love to see outside support of Waldorf education. I hope we can learn to look outside of our immediate communities for people who want what we want for children.
The work with the parent council is taking shape, but more form is needed so that the activity is focused and helpful. We want parents to feel supported at the same time that they are supporting the work with the children.
Finding events that keep people connected to the school is a challenge. Time and distance are always issues, especially for our alumni.
It would be good to have a bigger development committee of 25 people or so with 7 or 8 people on each subcommittee.
We would be served by having our Trustees work personally in a larger and more active role in the school’s fund raising work.
We would like to see our efforts at donor education succeed, as evidenced by seeing more and larger gifts flowing to the school. We are working hard to “grow givers”.