By Troy Fritz, Director of Advancement
Recently an alum made a significant five-figure gift to Cathedral. When asked what the school’s area of greatest need was, the school’s response was simple, The Cathedral Fund (unrestricted annual fund).
You may think putting this money into our endowment would have been the best option for a gift of that size. Think about it for a minute. If you take this same gift and endow it then rely on a draw of 5% annually, it will take more than 20 years to recapture that full gift. Endowments have their place and are critical for an organization’s long-term health and stability. But an organization must have a healthy cash flow coupled with prudent spending practices to balance its budget in order to run the school’s daily business operation.
Developing and maintaining a healthy model of philanthropic support is critically important for Cathedral. The model for funding Catholic schools has shifted heavily during the last half-century from primarily parish support to a more traditional tuition-based and philanthropic environment. In the early years, Catholic school teachers tended largely to be made up of religious members, and parishes were able to provide a majority of the funding through the collection baskets. During the last 50 years, there has been a deep reduction in religious members available to teach in Catholic schools shifting the cost of education to a more lay faculty dependent model.
This year’s operating budget for The Cathedral Fund is $500,000. Unrestricted annual fund dollars, simply put, are the most responsive dollars you can invest and contribute to help run Cathedral. The money is used in the areas of greatest priority and is critical to supporting the school’s mission. This past year, for example, dollars were used to upgrade the computer server system and purchase laptop computers. Scholarship dollars were provided to students whose families were impacted by job loss due to the economic downturn. Money was used to purchase training materials to prepare seniors for college life and college search and preparation resources. The Cathedral Fund provides dollars that are the most responsive to the current needs within the parameters of an approved annual budget.
A healthy model of development at Cathedral relies first and foremost on the health and success of a strong annual fund campaign. Without a strong and successful annual fund campaign, stress is placed on other less reliable sources of revenue and increases the need for less mission-driven fundraising strategies. Next, building a strong education foundation will ensure generations of students will have access to Cathedral and its facilities will be properly maintained and upgraded. Supporting future capital and scholarship campaigns offer the best opportunities to build the foundation’s strength and should be viewed as in addition to supporting The Cathedral Fund when possible.
The final leg of the development stool is a planned gift. By including Cathedral in your estate plans or as an insurance or IRA beneficiary, you deeply invest in the future of Cathedral in the form of a lasting legacy. Planned gifts are used by many donors to achieve an ultimate goal in helping to make significant impact on an organization in which they are passionately invested.
Understanding Cathedral’s greatest area of need will help you to invest your dollars where they will make the greatest impact for our students and our school.