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    Ever in Need of Money, NYC Private Schools Mine Parents’ Data, and Wallets, in Fund Raising Efforts

    From N.Y. Times by Jenny Anderson:
    Relentless fund-raising, be it for the annual fund, the spring benefit or the latest capital campaign, is as much a feature of private schools as small classes and diverse offerings. But with schools hitting the upper limits of what they can charge for tuition, consultants, parents and school heads say the race for donations has become notably more intense and aggressive.

    Schools are mining online data for details about parents’ homes, luxury cars, private planes, stock holdings and donations to other charities. So-called development offices, once the domain of part-time administrators and school volunteers, have been elevated along with the titles of those running them, who are now known as chief advancement officers, directors of philanthropy and heads of strategic initiatives. Heads of school report spending much of their time in search of money, according to surveys.

    The biggest change is the sophistication of the data available, and how schools can use it. Before a campaign begins, consultants interview 40 to 50 of the school’s top prospects to determine their level of interest in a campaign and how much they might give (a “feasibility study”). The consultants also try to measure a school’s philanthropic capacity (a “capacity analysis”).

    “It’s not just that we know how to ask for money, but we can figure out more precisely what you can reasonably expect to raise,” said Daniel Boyer, director of client relations and a senior consultant at Marts & Lundy, a consulting firm with a large private school practice.

    Donors are then wooed with personal touches based on schools’ research. Say, for example, a parent sits on the board of the Museum of Modern Art. “Let the person tell you about their interest in the arts and what they like to support and whether they would like to support a high school student who has an interest in art,” Mr. Boyer said.

    These efforts are paying off. In New York City, the median amount of annual giving raised per school increased 268 percent over the last decade, to $1.7 million from $462,341, according to data provided by the National Association of Independent Schools. The national median, by comparison, has increased 63 percent, to $895,614 from $548,651 (the New York sample included 20 schools; the national one, 246).

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  2. #2
    I loved this article for bringing to light the extremes private schools go to to raise money. Did you know there are professionals whose job is to figure out how to maximize revenues from enrolled students' families?

    In my "admit lit" novel, Where Does Caitlyn Go To School?, there is an admissions director character who asks very explicit questions to determine applicants' likelihood to give. It's a satire--it's fascinating reading the Times to see today's reality.

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