A Home for All Things Fundraising

By Seth Rosenzweig

“I am paying $30,000 in tuition and you want me to give more?” This is a statement I hear every year when we once again reach out to members of our community to ask for annual campaign gifts. This is further complicated by the fact that we are now in the middle of not only a capital campaign, but also an endowment campaign. For most, a gift is a gift, whether it is annual, capital, endowment or other; they are making a gift to the community above and beyond dues (which are already cost prohibitive for some). Often we receive checks that have capital campaign in the memo line, but the donor had intended it to be for the annual campaign. We are now charged with following up with the donor, which takes staff time, and trying to clarify their intent without causing them embarrassment. Endowment is its own little beast, difficult to explain and even harder to understand.

For years, we have been trying to find a metaphor for why we need Dues and Tuition, an Annual Campaign, a Capital Campaign and an Endowment Campaign. Recently we presented a house metaphor to our community and have found great resonance in this presentation.

Dues and Tuition: Rent and Mortgage Payments

Whether one owns or rents, there is a cost associated with having access to having a dwelling to call your own. Much like rent or mortgage payments, dues and tuition cover the basic cost of having a facility and/or a program. These are basic fees (sometimes high) to cover use of the facilities, staffing, curriculum development and supplies.

Annual Campaign: Bills and Other Expenses

All homes have added costs associated with them that go above and beyond the rent or mortgage. Water, Gas, Electric, Property Taxes; these are bills that make a home habitable. There are also some bills that go above and beyond basic needs that enhance one’s experience, such as internet, cable/satellite, or cell phones. Much like these amenities are needed to make a home livable, the annual campaign to helps cover the expenses that dues and tuition do not cover. It also provides for the use of some nicer amenities (professional development, being able to bring in new staff, creative new programs and curriculum development) that may cost a little bit now, but will be leveraged for growth in the future.

Capital Campaign: Enhancements

A kitchen or bathroom remodel, repainting the house, adding a swimming pool; at times there are modifications that can modernize or upgrade a living space and make it more hospitable. In addition, families can outgrow spaces that they live in and need to upgrade to larger dwellings. There are costs associated with these enhancements or moves. A capital campaign is much the same. Facilities are in constant need of maintenance and enhancement to keep them functional and attractive. At times spaces need to be remodeled to be more warm, welcoming and modern. A community can have a waitlist for enrollment or outgrow their facility. A capital campaign provides the funds for these enhancements or to purchase new land and build new facilities.

Endowment: Insurance & Investments

Life Insurance, Home Owners, Renter’s Insurance, Retirement Plans these are ways to save money and plan for the future. The hope is not to use these before an appropriate time, but they provide peace-of-mind knowing that they are there. Also, stocks and other investments not only have the potential to grow but can provide dividends each year to help cover some bills or provide for enhancements. Endowment is very much the same. Money is put aside and invested. Each year it grows and if there is a lean year, an unexpected expense or some sort of catastrophic event, then the community is protected financially. In addition, much like dividends, endowments allow for a spend rate each year, which helps offset operational or capital costs.

This metaphor has helped our community garner a better understanding of the complexity of multiple fundraising campaigns, hopefully it can help yours too!

Seth Rosenzweig is Director of Development at Temple Beth Am/Pressman Academy.