Academic journal article Educational Leadership and Administration

Fund Development Strategies from Higher Education for K-12 Administrators

Academic journal article Educational Leadership and Administration

Fund Development Strategies from Higher Education for K-12 Administrators

Article excerpt

Abstract: Increasingly, K-12 administrators must address the need for greater funding for their systems and schools. This article presents methods used in higher education that may be of use to its K-12 colleagues. It further suggests professional development to support school leaders in making use of these strategies.


The need for increased financial resources for instructional services in public schools is a long-standing issue. Superintendents and principals identified it as a main concern in providing quality instructional delivery for students (Kieff, 2003). Higher education institutions, through the leadership of its administration, have historically marshaled financial resources for educational programs, renovation of older buildings, construction of new facilities and additions to libraries to name some popular uses of funds (Pulley, 1999). Historically, K-12 public education has not enjoyed strong financial support from public or private entities, as compared to the support received by higher education. This paper will explore some of the successful strategies utilized by institutions of higher education to enhance funding for their educational organizations. It will also discuss strategies K-12 administrators can employ to develop increased funding for their instructional programs. Finally, suggestions for administrative training and professional development for K-12 administrators will be provided.

Higher Education Strategies

Generally speaking, institutions of higher education raise funds through the work of specific subgroups of their fund development program. The fund development program is an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) 501(c)(3) organization designated as a non-profit entity. It is given authority to generate funds which are eligible as tax-exempt contributions by donors. A fund development subgroup sponsors a variety of fundraising activities: e.g., social gatherings, auctions, requests for annual or one time financial contributions. Another component of the fund development program serves to gather donations of real estate or other special assets such as art objects which can be sold or utilized in other ways. Another thrust of the university/college development program is the alumni association which concentrates its efforts to raise funds from former students of the institution. Donors are requested to include the university/college in their wills or trusts. The team approach to fund development is often encouraged and not only involves alumni but faculty, past supporters, students as well as friends and family of these groups (Higdon, 2003).

Not only have four-year institutions of higher education embarked on concerted efforts to increase local financial resources, two-year community colleges have become increasingly aggressive since 1980 as well. Their impetus was a general decrease in funding for public two-year institutions throughout the nation during those years. Since that time, most two-year colleges in America have become fundraising entities. These institutions have begun to compete successfully with four-year institutions to gain large gifts from donors. As an example, the William H. Gates Foundation provided one of its largest gifts to the Washington-Seattle Community Colleges (Van der Werf, 1999).

Implications for K-12 Administrators

Successful fundraising strategies utilized by institutions of higher education can be effectively implemented, with some modifications, by K-12 administrators. The fund development organizations referenced above are similar to Local Education Foundations (LEFs) currently operating in an estimated 4,000 K-12 schools and school districts throughout the United States. These organizations are found throughout the country in rural, suburban and urban, high wealth as well as low wealth areas. They too are IRS 501(c)(3) organizations with boards of directors; generally they do not have paid staff members. …

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