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A Culture of Giving

By: Director of Development Cathleen Wyckoff

September 6, 2016

phi·lan·thro·py (noun)

1: the desire to promote the welfare of others, expressed especially by the generous donation of money to good causes. 2: a charitable act or gift

Did you know that an important part of private school culture is the concept of philanthropy? In fact, most private schools are registered non-profit organizations that rely on the charitable giving of their communities in order to operate. Since tuition does not cover all of Rossman’s expenses, the Annual Fund and income from the school’s endowment help fund the budget gaps. These supplemental sources of income ultimately minimize tuition increases for our families.

Compared to other charitable organizations, private schools have a relatively small group from which to solicit gifts. This is especially true for elementary schools. Think about your own giving. Most people who support schools make their largest gift to their college or university, followed by their high school, then their elementary school. Elementary schools are generally a “third tier” in educational giving.

Development professionals at these schools often ask “why,” when the foundation of one’s learning is elementary school. Discovering a love of learning, tackling study skills, and developing key character traits are all necessary for academic and personal success later on, and all are rooted at a very young age in elementary school. 

In St. Louis, we are fortunate to have many wonderful educational opportunities available to our children. By nurturing their potential at an early age, children are able to go on to attend some incredible secondary schools and esteemed colleges and universities.

A little research shows that these highly regarded universities and secondary schools have average endowments well over $1 billion and $45 million, respectively. At Rossman we have an endowment of $10 million, which is notable, but quite a difference from the very schools we are preparing our students to attend with the expectation that they will be successful.

Yes. When your children attend a private school, you will be asked to make it one of your top philanthropic priorities. Consider doing so, even at the elementary level. Your gifts have the power to significantly impact the educational foundation that your children will rely on for the rest of their lives.


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