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Fundraising "Essential"

by the AFRDS

In closely examining non-government sponsored schools, you soon discover that fundraising is essential for their survival. The typical Catholic elementary school raises about ten percent of its operating budget from different fundraising activities. If you were to do the math, for the over five million children in independent schools of all types, you would discover that fundraising for these schools is a $1 billion business each year.

While administrators, teachers and parents readily admit that fundraising is an onerous task, it does have several significant advantages.

  • First, fundraising reduces the actual cost of tuition because it invites the wider community to support the school. Thus, the burden of maintaining a quality educational institution is spread across a larger population.

  • Fundraising also brings together people from various backgrounds who work for a common goal, quality education for their children. Such interactions frequently lead to greater understanding of different people.

  • Finally, fundraising creates ownership of the school and its programs. This is an important factor and, unfortunately, some parents do not realize how great an effect ownership has on their involvement in the education of their children.

Whoever bears the responsibility for organizing the various fundraising efforts also bears the responsibility for providing quality products and services to the customer. Nothing can hurt a school's future fundraising efforts more than not pleasing the customer. Therefore, the school needs to consider carefully what product or service will best meet the needs of the customer. Blindly repeating the same practices year after year drives the public away. Having found a real, unsatisfied need, the selection committee should examine the quality of the product or service to be sold.

While profit is the goal of fundraising, this profit needs to be shared among the manufacturer, distributor and the school. Neither of these parties can take the major share of the profits. When a school makes undue demands on the distributor, the distributor must make cuts and these only happen in terms of quality and service.

Since fundraising is vitally important to our schools and it is big business, the time has come for all schools to address fundraising in a professional and business-like manner. If this is done, the long term effect will be increased revenue to the schools which is the reason why we do it in the first place.

Robert J. Kealey, Ed.D., Executive Director
Department of Elementary Schools
National Catholic Educational Association

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About the Author:

This article is from the Spring 1997 issue of the Fundraising Edge, an online publication of the Association of Fund Raisers and Direct Sellers and is reprinted with permission. Visit their web site at for more information and a look at the complete issues of the Fundraising Edge.

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