Much of InspirED’s brain food concentrates on enrollment, yet equally important is development. As with everything schools do to relate to audiences and ask them to do something, it’s all marketing…including fundraising.
Jack Rogers is the Chief Development Officer at William Penn Charter School, a PK12 coed Quaker day school in Philadelphia. In this podcast he shares how Penn Charter’s development office has achieved and sustained fundraising success. Jack explains his philosophy for stewarding donors over time by combining Penn Charter’s mission, ethos and institutional goals with the goals of the donors. One of the keys to success, Jack believes, is exhibiting patient engagement.
Jack has had a fascinating and varied career. He taught at Penn Charter for 10 years while earning a law degree at night. He practiced law for eight years before becoming Head of School at the Woodlynde School in Stratford, Pennsylvania, a position he held for 10 years. Jack returned to Penn Charter as the Senior Gift Officer before becoming the Chief Development Officer in 2007. He also served as the President of the Pennsylvania Association of Independent Schools as well as President of the Pennsylvania Branch of the Dyslexia Society.
“People love to know that there’s a partnership with the money they give and the people who use that money.”
“Penn Charter is a city school. We have a mission of over 300 years of scholarship. Many of our students come from families that are not in a position to make significant gifts. But we do hope they’ll make a gift to the annual fund and approach it as a modest level of giving. We don’t pressure them. We don’t have pizza parties if the class gets 100%. We try to encourage them to give a gift that’s comfortable.”
“Our parent percentage is lower than our peer schools, because of our approach. But we’re a Quaker school, and that’s how we feel. About 60% of our parents give to the annual fund.”
“It’s a real challenge for a development office to slow things down and make sure that you’re educating your donor properly.”
“If you want that donor to come back to you a second or third time you need to challenge yourself to say, ‘How can I find out what this donor really wants to do, and how can I patiently or thoughtfully try to get them to the right place?’”
“I try to never pressure my development officers for numbers, as to dollars in. What I try to say to them is, ‘Visits. I want you to have engagements.’”
“We’re a Quaker school. We see that of God in everyone. So when we approach our work, it’s foremost in our mind that we need to remember the mission comes first. Our main driver is scholarship.”
“The most difficult group we work with is former parents. Many wealthy people give generously when their child is here, and when they graduate, they’re respectful and say, ‘Now it’s their school, and it’s time to pay back.’”
“65% of our annual fund dollars come from alumni, and there’s a reason for that. I can’t take any credit for it.”
What You’ll Learn
- The remarkable history of the endowment fund at Penn Charter that was started in 1702.
- How Penn Charter manages their highly successful endowment fund.
- The difference in how Penn Charter solicits gifts to the annual fund, a capital campaign, or the endowment fund.
- Ways to balance our impatient culture with the stewardship necessary for development work.
- Why an individualized approach for different donors is successful.
- Why Penn Charter’s parent percentage to the annual fund is lower than peer schools.
- How class agents are one of the keys to alumni participation in the annual fund.
- What the most valuable development has been in Penn Charter’s development office recently.
- How Penn Charter’s Quaker mission affects their development efforts.
- The magic question that opens doors for Jack.
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