FastStats 2015: Annual Funds
Wednesday, December 16, 2015
Posted by: Christina Mimms
By: Jeffrey Mitchell, Head of School, Currey Ingram Academy, Brentwood, TN
Published: December 2015
The annual fund is a cornerstone of most, if not all, independent school giving programs. For most schools, the annual fund bridges the gap between hard income (tuition, fees, and endowment draw) and operating expenses. For some schools, the annual fund is not needed to bridge the gap and is used more productively, e.g., capital projects, endowment, financial aid. Offering about 5% of total income for most schools, the annual fund is a very welcome contributor, regardless of function (source: NAIS).
With many schools recently completing the “active” phase for this year’s annual fund, this FastStats presents some key annual fund statistics and trends. The graphs below show the average gift and percent participation for key donors in independent schools. As always, the data presented in a FastStats are most useful when you compare your school’s numbers.
For current parents, the average gift (represented on the left axis and by the columns) has not changed much in the past 10 years, especially when cost of living is factored in. There was an increase from 2005-2006 to 2006-2007, but since that time the average gift has not changed in NAIS and SAIS schools. Also note that the average gift in NAIS has been, and continues to be, larger than for SAIS schools. For example, in 2014-2015 the average gifts were $900 and $700 in NAIS and SAIS schools respectively.
For current parents, the median percent of participation (represented on the right axis and by the lines) has not changed over the past ten years and a gap of about 8-10% exists between NAIS and SAIS schools. The median percent of participation for NAIS current parents is 67% and for SAIS schools it is 60%.
For trustees, the average gift has trended upward. For NAIS schools in 2005-2006, the average gift for trustees was about $3,500. By 2014-2015, the average gift rose 12% to $4,000. As with current parents, the average gift in NAIS is larger than for SAIS schools. The median percent of participation has not changed over the past 10 years (always at 100%) with no difference existing between NAIS and SAIS schools.
For faculty, the average gift has had a very modest upward trend for both NAIS and SAIS schools. Unlike trustees and current parents, SAIS faculty have a small but consistently higher average gift and a higher percent of participation than NAIS faculty. The median percent of participation is very high for both NAIS and SAIS schools, especially in the past 3-5 years, where it has been essentially 100%.
As with trustees and current parents, the average gift for alumni has also had a very modest upward trend for both NAIS and SAIS schools. Also, identical to trustees and current parents, the percent of participation for alumni has not changed in the past 10 years, remaining at 10% for NAIS schools and 8% for SAIS schools.
The graph for grandparents shows upward trends for both NAIS and SAIS schools in both amount given and percent of participation, with no difference between NAIS and SAIS schools in percent of participation and the slightest of differences for amount given.
As with grandparents, the graph for foundations shows upward trends for both NAIS and SAIS schools in both amount given and percent of participation. This is especially true for percent of participation. This has risen from around 30% to approximately 75% in 10 years. For foundations, percent of participation means the percentage of solicited foundations that gave to the annual fund.
It appears that both participation and amount given have hit a ceiling with current parents, alumni, and faculty, especially when cost of living is factored into the conversation. Yet, for trustees, the participation rate remains the same (at 100%) while the amount given has grown beyond inflation. Schools also appear to have more systematically tapped into other sources, such as grandparents and foundations, perhaps as a result of the flat numbers from other core audiences.
For grandparents, this is perhaps a reflection of the rising costs for an independent school education (beyond inflation) and families realizing that help is needed from extended family members. It could also be that independent schools have gotten a little better at soliciting grandparents with events such as "grandparents’ days" becoming commonplace and more advancement-oriented.
Tapping into foundations more systematically and effectively seems to be the most significant change over the past 10 years. Assuming that the same volume of foundations are solicited by independent schools now as compared to 10 years ago, the percent of participation increase from 30% to 75%, with an average gift of about $2,200, equates to a healthy impact on the annual fund bottom line. If you, as a school, have not looked into this source of revenue for your annual fund, it might be time.