In my 19 years as a Head of School, I can safely say I’ve never begun an Annual Fund campaign on the heels of a global pandemic. Rather than tell you what makes this year, 2020, different – because I think by now you’re likely aware – I want to talk about how philanthropy works more broadly in times of crisis, and what I think that means for Trinity.
Directly after an emergency, you’ll witness the inspiring altruism of others. People join together to donate the most critical items to philanthropic organizations to help serve and protect others: medical supplies, food, shelter. Across borders, time zones, and websites, they will donate what they can, often to people they’ve never met. Simply put, they are called by the purest form of empathy in response to need. As an Episcopal school, we teach our students this kind of outreach.
However, many organizations will tell you that it is after the first wave of giving tapers that their real work begins: how will they scalably continue to raise resources for a prosperous future, and where will those resources be invested for the greatest impact? As a school, and as a non-profit, we think similarly.
Make no mistake: Trinity’s future is incredibly bright. We’ve grown key initiatives like our partnership with the Institute for Social-Emotional Learning; we’ve expanded our Music and Design Thinking Programs; we’ve built a hydroponic greenhouse to teach students about sustainable and efficient gardening. Even remotely and over Zoom, we shine, as we developed an exemplary distance learning program, based on the most successful models, to foster intellectual, social and emotional growth of our students.
Virtually all independent schools and many local public schools have an Annual Fund, and below is a bit of context as to ours. Also keep in mind that our Annual Fund is remarkable in that we regularly achieve 100% participation across our entire community, including parents, the Board of Trustees, faculty and staff:
- First, our operating budget is about $4.4 million. Tuition and investment income represent approximately 85% of that budget;
- Second, ~15% of the $4.4 million operating budget comes from giving, including the Annual Fund with Faculty Venture Grants and Spring Benefit;
- Third, the Annual Fund is by far the biggest piece of Trinity Giving.
But that’s only part of the story. I want to go back, again, to the short and long term. In the short term, we plan to use Annual Fund giving to:
- Continue to build our Financial Aid reserves, including for families who have been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, so that our community does not suffer as a result of the pandemic;
- Design and implement as-needed health and safety infrastructure improvements on both of our campuses, including hygiene stations, social distancing signage, and other key health initiatives;
- Find and implement distance-development programs for faculty, consistent with our commitment to the Faculty Venture Grant, so that we can continue to retain world class faculty
- Expand Professional Development in the Areas of Diversity, Inclusion and Equity that leads to curriculum progression.
In the longer term, we will use Annual Fund giving to sustain and strengthen our ongoing programming, including:
- Social and Emotional curriculum planning and implementation
- Expansion of the Music Program
- Extending the Science Program through an experiential Outdoor Education Program
Thank you for being on this journey with us – in the short term, and for years to come. Through your partnership and generosity, we will emerge stronger and better prepared for 2021 and beyond. I’m here to answer any questions you may have about the Annual Fund or Trinity Giving, as are the Chairs of the Annual Fund and the Class Captains. Pledge your support to Trinity Annual Fund. Thank you for all your support for the students of Trinity School.
Trinity School Chairs of the Annual Fund
- Kathy Sweeney – Board Development Committee Chair
- Ivonne King – Annual Fund Chair