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Philanthropy at Private Schools: A Culture of Giving Back

Did you know that an important part of the private school culture is the concept of philanthropy?

In fact, most private schools, both boarding schools and day schools, are registered non-profit organizations and rely on the charitable giving of their constituents to make it possible to operate annually. These institutions also involve students in community service efforts in which students find ways to support not only their school communities, but their towns, states, and even the world. How can you be philanthropic at your boarding school? Below we’ve listed out several ways that a private school can create a culture of giving back:

Support the Annual Fund or Endowment

As an applicant to private school, this is an important part of the school culture that you need to know about. Tuition alone typically does not cover the full cost of educating a student. As such, private schools rely on funding that comes from two other primary sources: endowment and annual fund. What’s the difference between the two?

The Annual Fund supports the operating budget every year, which is typically July 1-June 30. In turn, this money directly benefits the current students by supporting things like academics, athletics, arts, and even financial aid. Pledges to the Annual Fund must be paid within this one year.

Endowment gifts, often referred to as capital giving, usually support the school and students for multiple years, benefiting both current and future students by investing the money in a pooled endowment fund. A portion of the interest from the endowment is allocated annually to support the operating budget. Pledges to the endowment can be paid over a period of years.

Most schools offer several ways to give back, including online giving forms, gifts of stocks, matching gifts (which make it possible to double or even triple the impact of your gift, usually by an employer), and gifts in kind. Learn more about the ways in which Cheshire Academy makes it possible for constituents to give back by visiting us online.  

Look for special giving opportunities

Have you heard about #GivingTuesday? Following Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday provides an opportunity to kick off the charitable season. Schools and colleges, as well as other non-profits around the world are joining in. Here at Cheshire Academy, we hold matching gift challenges - a now annual tradition that has taken place since 2014. The first year, we raised more than $60,000 and we raised nearly $90,000 in year two!

In addition to the fundraising opportunity, the Academy hosts its annual #ISGivingTuesday Twitter chat on Giving Tuesday at 1 pm EST. Each year numerous independent schools gather to share ways in which they give back, with many continuing the chat beyond the scheduled hour. As a partner of Giving Tuesday, Cheshire Academy’s goal is to enable and empower faculty, students, families, alumni, and the entire independent school community to join in and promote giving. Participants in the chat can share what their schools have done to give back and showcase the efforts of students, families, alumni, and communities as well. We hope that independent schools and their communities will join the conversation around giving and support the overall #GivingTuesday cause.

Organize a Community Service Event

Philanthropy doesn’t have to just center around giving money. Your time is a great way to support your boarding school and your community, whether you’re a student, parent, or an alum.

At Cheshire Academy, our alums give back by using their talents to benefit the school. We have had alumni donate items like food and beverages or giveaway items to an event, while others donate their services to help with marketing projects like videos. Alums even come back to speak in classes and share their life experiences at events, such as Cheshire Conversations.

Students at Cheshire Academy have the option to participate in Ich Dien, our afternoon program devoted to community service. From gathering the recycling from all our buildings on campus to working at food pantries and cleaning up local areas, students give their time and effort as a way to show they care. This type of philanthropic service is so important that it’s even a required part of the International Baccalaureate Programme (IB program), a signature program at Cheshire Academy. IB diploma candidates are asked to complete an entire project called Creativity, Action, and Service (CAS). A key component of the IB program, CAS asks students to undertake a project that shows initiative, demonstrates perseverance, and develops skills such as collaboration, problem-solving, and decision-making. Past projects at Cheshire Academy have included bike and musical instrument drives, in which students collect, clean up, and repair donated items that are then given back to those in need in the community.

How do you give back to your school and community? Tell us in the comments below.

Stacy Jagodowski

Written by Stacy Jagodowski

Ms. Jago joined the Cheshire Academy community in August 2013 as the director of strategic marketing and communications. Prior to coming to Cheshire Academy, she spent six years working in communications offices at both colleges and private school, as well as five years in admission at both boarding schools and day schools.

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