Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Episcopal School's Fundraising Campaign: Where's the Christ?

This is the time of year for fund-raising campaigns. Every day pewsterspouse and I receive a number of requests for donations via snail mail from charities, "non-profits", and former schools. Our schools want money for alumni associations, scholarships, and general funds, each coming as a separate "ask". Each year, we are left wondering, "Is this something to which we should donate?"

Useful resources include the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance. They rate charities based on how they follow protocol and the BBB provides financial information along with a pie chart of how much each charity's spending goes towards fundraising, administrative costs, and program expenses. Interestingly, the Clinton Foundation does not meet BBB standards, but you won't hear about that on the network news. The Trump Foundation is not even registered, a fact that did make the news.

You also can find a group's IRS Form 900 at Free registration is required.

Last week I received a request from my dear old Episcopal High School which gave me pause to re-evaluate their mission and to question whether or not to send them a donation.

You see, the request from this erstwhile religiously affiliated institution talked a little about generic "faith" but contained no mention of Jesus, God, or the Holy Spirit. If I had to point to one thing that is wrong with the Episcopal organization, it is that we have done a lousy job of teaching our children to put their trust in Jesus. Instead, we have been raising generations of youngsters who are lacking in the one thing that the fundraising letter from my old school dares to mention, faith. Oh, they have faith in their education in English, Math, and Science, and they have faith that their educational foundation will get them into the best universities, but do they have enough faith in Jesus to mention his name when they are in need? The online request is longer than the short letter I got in the mail, but in spite of its greater length, Jesus is still curiously absent. This is what I pulled from the web page (names redacted),

“I am grateful for the talent and devotion of our teachers; the richness of our traditions; the combination of faith, scholarship and service; the exceptional educational experience; and the sense of community. Your gifts to the StM Annual Fund help to make all this possible.”  ***** Head of School 
"A Message from Board Chair As a proud StM parent and alum, I have spent the better part of my life on StM's campus.  And while my experience at StM as a student was great, through the dedication of our faculty, our students, and the community I have seen our school become even greater.  Unequivocally, StM is the best school for our children. Whether you are a parent, alum, parent of alum, grandparent, or community member, you have all been touched by the impact of a StM's education. Today, as we officially kick off the 2016-2017 StM Annual Fund campaign, I want to share with you just a few of the reasons why I take such tremendous pride in our school, and how your ongoing commitment and gifts enable our students and StM do great things.  StM is transforming education. We have become leaders in design thinking (locally and globally) and our school is being touted as one of the "go to" schools for this type of innovative teaching and program. Opening later this month is the new ***** Family Center for Innovation + Design.  This building will operate simultaneously as a design studio, prototyping lab, production studio, woodworking and build shop, flexible classroom space, and community partnership workspace. The range and sophistication of its equipment will make it the most comprehensive school-based maker space in the region (and perhaps the state).   StM has the best faculty. When I think about the teachers who made a difference in my life at StM, and the ones who are now impacting the lives of my children, I realize just how critical highly-trained, dedicated, and passionate faculty members are to our students and school.  A school is only as good as its faculty, and there is no doubt in my mind: StM has the best.  StM offers opportunities for a lifetime. We have a very successful track record of preparing our students for college, but they are also being prepared to thrive in life. Through new and innovative programs, hands-on, experiential learning, and numerous character and faith-building opportunities, StM empowers our students to excel and enjoy educational experiences that will last them a lifetime. This is the StM experience, and it is exactly what you support when you give to the Annual Fund.  Please join me, the Board of Trustees, and the faculty and staff by making one of the most powerful gifts you can make: a gift in support of education, a gift in support of our students, a gift that will last a lifetime.  Do something great for a student, a teacher, and StM. Make your commitment today. Sincerely, ***********
Chair, Board of Trustees  P.S. Gifts of all sizes are appreciated and will help us to reach the $400K goal. Families will receive their StM Annual Fund packets by mail. Please complete and return your pledge envelope on or before October 31. Pledges do not need to be fulfilled until June 30, 2017. You can also make your gift online now.StM Annual Fund gifts touch every student, every program, and virtually every part of our school life. Your investment in the Annual Fund enhances our students’ educational experience, enabling StM to add innovative programs and technology while honoring our traditions and commitment to faith, scholarship, and service.The Annual Fund is at the heart of the school’s fundraising efforts. As with most independent schools, tuition does not cover the entire cost of educating a StM student. The Annual Fund helps fill in the gap between the tuition revenue and the actual cost of providing the highquality education that our students experience at StM.

DONATIONS can be in the form of cash, checks, credit cards, pledges, and matching gifts. All annual gifts are tax-deductible. 
  • All gifts to the StM Annual Fund this year will be applied to expenses this year.
  • The StM Annual Fund Campaign begins July 1, 2016 and ends June 30, 2017.
  • Gifts may be pledged and paid in installments.
  • Donors at the Founder's level or higher are invited to an annual Thank You Reception in the fall and receive VIP Passes good for lunch with the head of school, athletic events, and theatre performances.
  • You may be able to double or even triple your gift with a Matching Gift from your employer or your spouse's employer."
Back in the day, I drew a picture of one of my religion classes as a senior which will give you an idea of why it took a couple of years in college to find Jesus,

I am always amazed when my school asks for money. Most Episcopal enterprises should not be in need of money. As I commented in an earlier post,
"The last time I looked, the Episcopal organization has an incredible treasure of  $355,969,542 in trust funds (see page 8 of the 2015 Trust Funds Report)." 
One look at U.S. religious groups with the wealthiest members shows that Episcopalians come in at number three right behind Jews and Hindus (Pew Research 2016).

I wonder if Episcopalians are so unsure of the Lordship of Christ that they are afraid to speak his name?

Or maybe they are afraid they might offend someone.

Jews, Muslims, and unbelievers won't have to worry about sending their children to dear old StM. The priests, if they still work there, won't try to convert anyone. They certainly didn't when I went there. In fact, I wonder if they were actually working to secularize us back then. 

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