Category Archives: Education

K-12, higher education…”fundraising is fundraising”

CCEFIt was a pleasure to serve as a panelist at 2014 California Consortium of Education Foundations annual conference, held at UC Irvine this week, to discuss lessons K-12 fundraising professionals can glean from their higher education counterparts. The panel, moderated by Andrea Sala of the Peninsula Education Foundation in Palos Verdes, also included Dr. Sylvia Acosta, Assistant Vice Chancellor at UC Irvine.

Our discussion was wide-ranging, but focused primarily on the importance of inspiring donors through storytelling, providing clear and concise messages, and creating a culture of giving. Continue reading

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“It’s important to give back what I’ve been given”

I had the pleasure of speaking recently with Omar Viramontes, the 2013 recipient of the Tom Tucker Leadership Scholarship, the single largest scholarship awarded annually by the UCSD Alumni Association. The Tucker Leadership Scholarship comes from an endowment established by a group of UCSD alumni in 2011, and Omar is the second recipient of the award. He will graduate in the spring from UCSD’s Thurgood Marshall College, the same college I graduated from many years ago. Speaking with Omar about his experiences at UCSD not only stirred fond memories of my own time there, but also served as a stark reminder of the value of hard work and determination, and of the importance of family. Omar has clearly earned everything he’s been given, and he’s determined to improve the lives of others. Here is his story:

Omar Viramontes

Omar Viramontes hopes to put his scientific training to use to improve public health in underserved communities.

Behind every successful student is a story of how he or she got there. Sometimes it’s innate ability; sometimes sheer determination. And sometimes, it is through sacrifices parents make to see their children have opportunities they never had. Parents rarely advertise their commitments as parents. They simply make them. Continue reading

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Reporting on a client’s progress

It was a pleasure to appear before the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Board of Education last month to report on the tremendous progress and growth of the Santa Monica-Malibu Education Foundation, one of my firm‘s clients. Accompanying my report is the announcement by Foundation Executive Director Linda Greenberg Gross of a new $500,000 gift to the Foundation.

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Artists truly for the arts

Jackson Browne

Jackson Browne helped launch the annual Artists for The Arts concert in Santa Monica 10 years ago, and a decade later he’s still volunteering his time to support arts education.

Last month I attended a Jackson Browne concert in Santa Monica. As great as Jackson Browne is, that may not sound remarkable on its face, even when I add that another 1970s icon, Gary Wright, was also on the bill, and the “house band,” Venice, is a highly accomplished group with numerous albums and world tours to their credit.

No, what made this evening an indelible memory for the packed house who saw the show was the fact that these stars shared the stage with high school students, and those students delivered some knockout performances on par with any pro. Continue reading

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Big gifts can – and must – happen at the K-12 level too

CCEF

The California Consortium of Education Foundations convened at Stanford University on March 19.

I was honored to serve as a keynote speaker at the California Consortium of Education Foundations annual conference at Stanford University last month. Attendees included representatives from school districts and foundations all over Northern and Central California (a similar gathering for Southern California was held a week prior in Anaheim).

What was remarkable about this group was the wide disparity in size and structure of the foundations represented. Whereas a few had full-time staff, highly engaged boards, and strong public presence, others had no staff at all and are being run solely by volunteers serving on a small board. One thing all held in common, though, is the knowledge that our public schools must be supported by private gifts and other revenue sources beyond state budget dollars if we are to adequately provide staffing, professional development, and programs and services to ensure that all children have an opportunity to succeed. Continue reading

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Fundraising through inspiration…or through fear?

Maybe I’m old-fashioned. I’ve always believed in, and preached the importance of, inspiring donors to give. I believe donors tend to give to causes in which they believe, and in which they are inspired to invest. And I believe donors invest in organizations that exhibit success in what they do, particularly when it comes to education. Powerful storytelling backed by verifiable data yield great returns. Connecting a donor’s passion with a cause’s needs and opportunities – without overstating results – lead to positive experiences for all.

Los Angeles Fund for Public Education billboard

One of the Los Angeles Fund for Public Education’s “Catastrophe” billboards

The top 20 fundraising colleges and universities, for example, are a mixed bag of public and private institutions. Some are large research institutions, others are smaller liberal arts colleges (though all on the list have large research components, and significant grant income in addition to alumni support). Aside from sharing the trait that they’ve effectively cultivated donors and stewarded their gifts for many years (in some cases centuries), they also share another trait: they all attract philanthropic support based on their ability to exhibit institutional excellence. They inspire donors to invest in their work and illustrate the positive impact that work ultimately has in the lives of their students, their communities, and the world. Continue reading

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Major gifts: It’s about relationships

One of the great pleasures in working with nonprofits is being part of the excitement of a monumental announcement. Yesterday one of my clients, the Santa Monica-Malibu Education Foundation, announced the largest gift in its 30-year history. A donor bequeathed $4.8 million to the Foundation to assist the 16 public schools in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District with critical needs in this era of dramatic budget cuts, as well as to establish an endowment in the donor’s name, honoring her parents’ legacy while providing ongoing individualized mentoring in the arts for underprivileged children in these schools.

SMMEFThe magnitude of this gift underscores the fact that donors are out there. They may not be well-known. They may not even be alumni of the schools they choose to support. But they are out there. It’s all about building relationships. Continue reading

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