Today’s charter school operators are creative, savvy, and collaborative people. That’s because they have to be! To fund their schools successfully and meet the needs of their students, these individuals must think outside the box and do things differently than most other educators. They cannot rely on traditional fundraising methods—cafeteria fundraisers, car washes, telemarketing, bake sales, etc.—because their target audience doesn’t respond well.
After all, most charter schools operate in areas where people don’t want to go to another public school. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a way for you to get the funding you need for your new school venture.
Here are six fundraising ideas that may help you find success with your charter school fundraising:
- Set up an endowment with your first round of funding.
- Leverage your school’s physical space.
- Organize a care-based fundraising campaign.
- Create a scholarship program for current students.
- Fundraise through your school’s events and activities.
- Ask alumni to contribute as they graduate.
- Conclusion – Final Thoughts
- Frequently Asked Questions
Set up an endowment with your first round of funding.
The first round of funding you receive for your school should go toward establishing an endowment. An endowment is a fund that you maintain with a financial institution and from which you can withdraw money to fund your school as needed.
An endowment is ideal for a charter school operator because it provides stability in funding for a long period of time. It’s easier to secure funding for an endowment than for one-time use, and once you have that funding in place, you can use it to cover various expenses.
You can use it to cover the cost of staff, technology, supplies, facility maintenance, professional development, etc. Any of these things will help to ensure that your school is successful and meeting the needs of its students.
Leverage your school’s physical space.
If your school occupies a physical space, you need to find ways to generate income from that real estate. You can do this by partnering with local businesses to host conferences and events at your building.
You can also offer additional services, such as tutoring, mentoring, and coaching. You can even launch a co-working space where professionals can come together to get their projects done.
If your school is in, or near, a big city, consider partnering with ride-sharing services, such as Uber and Lyft, to have a designated pickup/drop-off location for their drivers. Think about how you can leverage the space your school will be occupying, and don’t forget to negotiate a revenue split if you’re partnering with a company that’s leasing your space.
Organize a care-based fundraising campaign.
Children are our future, and they deserve a bright one. To ensure they get one, they need people who care about their well-being, both now and in the future. You can organize a care-based fundraising campaign by partnering with local businesses and organizations tied to a particular cause, such as children in need, human trafficking, foster care, or health and wellness.
You can also partner with national organizations, such as the American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association, or the National Breast Cancer Foundation. Your fundraising campaign should tie in with your school’s mission and programs.
For example, consider partnering with a national mentoring organization if your school has a mentoring program for local youth. Your fundraising campaign should run throughout the year, with events and activities tied to the cause for which you’re raising money.
Create a scholarship program for current students.
One of the best ways to raise funds for your school’s operations is to create a scholarship program for current students. This is especially effective if your school serves a low-income population, as many charter schools do.
When people contribute to your scholarship program, they’re investing in the future of your school and the students who will attend it in the coming years. Remember that you cannot give financial assistance to students who meet the state’s definition of low-income.
Instead, when someone donates to your scholarship program, they are allowed to select a specific student to receive assistance. You can help protect the integrity of the scholarship program by creating a system that allows current students and donors to select their recipients.
You can also ask donors to describe the type of student they’d like to help, such as a child who is bullied or excels in math or the sciences.
Fundraise through your school’s events and activities.
One of the easiest and most effective ways to raise funds for your school is to host various events and activities. You’ll want to consider all the different events you can hold, from galas and sporting events to wine tastings and silent auctions.
You can also offer unique experiences, such as an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of your school’s classrooms or a special cooking lesson with your school’s culinary arts instructor.
You can even offer a chance for donors to name one of your school’s new classrooms after themselves or a loved one. You should also consider how your students can participate in the fundraising efforts. You can allow student participation at each event or activity or assign them specific tasks, such as designing posters or setting up and breaking down tables at an event.
Ask alumni to contribute as they graduate.
As your school’s alumni network grows, you can reach out to these individuals to contribute to future fundraising efforts. You can offer alumni the option of making one-time contributions or a recurring payment plan. You may want to match the fund’s alumni contributions, motivating them to give even more.
It’s a good idea to get your alumni involved with fundraising as soon as they graduate. That way, you can build a relationship with them over the course of several years, and they’ll feel more connected to the school they attended as a child.
Conclusion – Final Thoughts
Fundraising for a new charter school can be challenging, but it doesn’t need to be. With the right mindset and a little creativity, you can find many different ways to finance your operation.
Start by setting up an endowment with your first round of funding, leveraging your school’s physical space, and hosting a care-based fundraising campaign. Then, get your alumni involved as soon as they graduate by asking them to contribute as they earn their degrees. These six ideas will help you raise the money you need to open and operate a successful charter school.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Charter Schools Receive Local Funding?
Charter schools are public schools independently established by local communities or chartering organizations. They can be either private or public schools. A common misconception is that charter schools receive funding from the state, but this is not always true.
Sometimes schools will receive some funding from the state, but they are not required to pay anything back. In other cases, schools may receive funding directly from the local community. This funding can come in many forms, including grants, donations, and tuition payments.
However, some things to consider when deciding whether a school receives local funding. First, it’s important to determine whether the school is a charter school. The term “charter” refers to a specific type of public school independently established by a local community or private organization. Second, it’s important to understand how much money the school receives from the local community and how frequently it must reimburse its parents for those expenses.
And finally, it’s important to evaluate whether an independent school meets your individual needs before you enroll your child there.
Are charter schools nonprofit organizations?
Charter schools are often mostly run by nonprofit organizations that are given the charter to operate in public school facilities as an alternative to traditional public schools. Charters have the freedom to be innovative, such as by offering classes online or through mobile apps, because the constraints of government regulations do not bind them.
This can lead to improvements in educational outcomes for students. However, charter schools are not yet common in the United States and do not come without challenges.
For example, charter schools must prove that they will improve student outcomes over time if they wish to continue operating. There are also concerns that charters may select students based on their ability to pay tuition, which could result in inequity among students. Charter schools are scrutinized for their ability to attract and retain quality teachers and leaders.