Starting a School Foundation
Looking to raise additional money for your district? That's not the only reason why you should have a school foundation. In addition to the financial benefits, a foundation also engages your community in the process of improving your local schools and gives citizens another avenue to make their voices heard.
Why should your school district have a school foundation?
- A school foundation is a positive PR tool for your school district.
- Engages your community in the process of improving your local schools.
- Gives citizens another avenue to make their voices heard.
- Builds a new audience of ambassadors and monetary supporters (donors) of your schools.
- Builds bridges to new non-parent audiences, including: single people, empty nesters, senior citizens, retired employees of the school district, non-resident community leaders, high school alumni, political figures, businesses, community groups, other foundations and charities.
- Will attract additional funds and other resources, often from outside your community.
- Will provide a legal, professional mechanism to collect and administer funds.
- Will make available some grant opportunities for which your school district is not, by itself, eligible.
- Will avoid some legal and political limitations and entanglements that district funds are subject to.
- Will provide a means for people to show their support for and gratitude to schools.
Fifteen steps to starting your school foundation:
- Create your planning committee to conduct a feasibility study and research.
- Get legal and financial advice from experienced professionals.
- Determine your source of start-up cash for fees and administrative expenses.
- Determine your source of administrative staff support for your foundation.
- Select your initial board of directors. Choose officers, meeting times and places and committees.
- Draft and adopt your foundation's name, mission, vision and board member job description.
- Determine an address and telephone number for your foundation.
- Design your foundation's logo, letterhead and image items.
- Apply for a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN), select a bank and open accounts for your foundation.
- Draft and submit your foundation's Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws, according to the laws of your state or province.
- File for non-profit charitable status with the Internal Revenue Service: 501(c)3.
- Consider buying insurance for your foundation and board of directors.
- Develop your foundation's strategic plan for the next few years.
- Begin developing policies for money management, investments and other issues.
- Publicize your foundation. Develop partnerships with other groups. Raise and disburse funds according to your mission.
Source: Mark Havens, author of the NSPRA publication Dream Big: Creating and Growing Your School Foundation.
School Foundation Evaluation Services
If your foundation has yet to achieve its potential, a review of your programming and governance can set you on the path to success. Through a unique partnership between MASB and The McCormick Group, we’ll come to you and help you chart a course for your foundation’s future direction. The half day, on-site assessment includes:
- Key leader interviews
- Document review
- Programming/communications review
- Governance review
- Recommendations for advancing your foundation
Contact Erin Katz, 517.327.5935 for more information.
School Foundation Planning Kit
American Schools Foundation Alliance
The American Schools Foundation Alliance is a not-for-profit organization established to provide productive resources, tools and guidance for education foundations to advance public education in the U.S. Their mission is to create a nationwide community of education foundations and to serve those foundations by providing essential and timely information to ensure their success.