Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Fundraising Efforts: Letter To The School Board
Posted Nov. 26, 2011, 1:21 am
Dear School Board,
I can't even begin to tell you how disappointed I am with your recent decision to combine the fundraising efforts for the schools into one system. I understand that there is an achievement gap in our schools; I believe that is why some of them receive Title 1 funds. I also understand that many of those funds have been cut, but not all. Will those resources also be allocated equally among all schools in the district?
I work hard to support my school, sacrificing valuable time and resources. And I'm not ashamed to admit that this is primarily because I have two children in the Santa Monica school system. I want to support them as much as humanly possible, which is easy to do when
I get to see how my efforts affect their lives on a daily basis.
Would I work just as hard knowing that my time and money might go to other schools in the district? I'm honestly not sure. But the fact that I'm even asking myself the question just goes to show how wrong-headed your decision is.
I've spent the last 20 years supporting and working for various non-profits, mostly dealing with the abused, neglected and underprivileged children of Los Angeles, so I am intimately familiar with the ins and outs of fundraising and soliciting charitable donations. Given this, you'd think I'd be all for a new way of supporting our school district. And I would be, if indeed I thought that this new way would actually have the desired effect. Let me assure you, it will not.
While I believe that combining some of the resources from the wealthier schools could help, creating a system that equally distributes funds to all schools will only result in an overall
decrease in the number of donations. On the surface, it would seem your plan is plausible -- a simple and fair redistribution of funds -- but this assumes that you'll receive the same amount of money. Sadly, this is not the case. The first rule of fundraising is to appeal to
the donor's sense of social responsibility and community. Put simply, people give more to causes that are personal or "hit close to home." By broadening the spectrum of how school funds will be distributed, the board will have effectively narrowed its fundraising target and
legislated a major disincentive to donations, especially with regard to your top-tier donors. Just imagine what would happen if college alumni associations were forced to distributed their donations to all universities instead of the college of their choice.
It's just that simple.
My friends and neighbors have all expressed that they will not continue to monitarily support the schools in the same manner. We have not only discussed this in the hallways of our schools, but also with incoming parents. In fact I spoke to a friend on Monday about this new effort on the part of the school board. She was planning to move her family to Santa Monica, and has now decided to stay in Brentwood. So I know I'm not alone. Luckily, I am the treasurer of my child's class, so next year I plan on asking for more money upfront to support our teacher rather than fundraising for the district.
Hopefully, this will at least off-set some of the damage that will be created by your wrong- headed decision.
Lastly, if you maintain this path, I fully support the Roosevelt, Franklin, and Grant coalition tatement. But I will continue to try to defeat this effort at all stages, including not voting for this school board at re-election time. I was not able to make tonight's meeting because of a lack of childcare.