Frequently Asked Questions
Why does Mid-Pen need to raise money?
Mid-Pen is a nonprofit organization that operates without the financial support of local or federal taxes. Unlike many businesses, we are mission driven, not profit centered. The school’s purpose isn’t to make money for shareholders, but to provide the best possible education to a diverse student body. Gifts are necessary because tuition doesn’t cover all the opportunities students receive. That’s why schools need endowments, auxiliary programs like summer schools, and, yes, fund-raising. Each year we ask members of our community to make a donation to the Annual Fund, as well as to support our gala auction, DragonFest. These fundraising activities represent an important and flexible source of revenue that provides the “margin of excellence” for which Mid-Pen strives. Together, the Annual Fund and DragonFest contribute approximately 10% of our operating income each year.
What is the difference between annual giving and capital giving?
The Annual Fund helps cover the school’s annual operating expenses, which are always greater than the income provided by tuition. In addition, the school also needs funds for building renovations and special projects. Unlike a for-profit business, Mid-Pen cannot raise money by issuing stock (as a nonprofit, we don’t have stockholders). Instead, we occasionally undertake a “capital campaign,” during which we ask the school’s stakeholders—current and past parents, alumni, trustees, and friends—to contribute a capital gift to help us complete a project like a classroom renovation. Think of it as an investment in the school’s future, with the dividends going to the next generation of Mid-Pen students.
Annual gifts help us live. Capital funds help us grow.
If independent schools were run in a more businesslike way, couldn’t they avoid asking for gifts?
A for-profit business, whose mission is to make money, is not an appropriate model for a school, whose mission is to provide students with the best education. After interviewing more than 100 leaders from the social sector, Jim Collins, the author of Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t, concluded, “We must reject the idea – well intentioned, but dead wrong – that the primary path to greatness in the social sector is to become ‘more like a business.’” By nature, high-quality schools are labor intensive and people oriented; salaries and benefits make up about 75% of Mid-Pen’s annual budget, and the typical path to efficiency used by business (reducing staff and increasing productivity) is not readily available to schools.
I’m a current parent. Why is it important that I give to the Annual Fund?
Because gifts to the Annual Fund support current programs, every current family is encouraged to contribute at whatever level they are able. Each year we strive for 100% parent participation because high participation builds community and inspires others to give. 100% support for the Annual Fund includes faculty, administration, staff, and trustees.
I’m an alumnus. Why should I give to Mid-Pen?
Many of our alumni tell us that Mid-Pen prepared them not only for success in college, but also in life. A Mid-Pen education develops the whole person. Gifts to the Annual Fund are a way of paying it forward. Just as annual and capital gifts supported your education during your years at Mid-Pen, your gift ensures that future generations of Mid-Pen students will have access to the same high quality education that you received.
Why is participation so important?
All gifts are significant, no matter the size. Many outside organizations, such as foundations and corporations, look at the rate of participation when making funding decisions; a high level of participation from parents, alumni, trustees, faculty, and staff is a sign of confidence in the school.
What is a matching gift?
Many companies will match charitable contributions by their employees, so that your gift may be worth double or sometimes even triple its original amount. By asking your company to match your gift to Mid-Pen, you can maximize the amount of your donation while your company helps to support a worthy cause. Many Mid-Pen parents work for matching gift companies—please check with your human resources department or search for your company using our Matching Gift Database.
OK, I’m convinced. How much should I give?
Whatever you are comfortable giving. Last year, gifts to the Annual Fund ranged from $5 to $25,000, but every gift is important and appreciated. Mid-Pen has far fewer supporters than a college or university has, so that each gift to the school counts more than it does to a large organization. This reasoning leads many families to make their children’s school their philanthropic priority, because they know their gifts will have an immediate impact and are an investment that truly pays off.
Are gifts tax deductible?
Yes. Mid-Pen is a nonprofit organization, officially a 501(c)3 corporation. You will receive a tax receipt, along with our deepest appreciation, when you make a gift.
Can I make a pledge or pay over time?
Yes. You don’t have to make a donation all at once, but can spread out payments over time. Many families find it easy and almost painless set up a recurring payment with their bank or to have the school charge their credit card a little each month. Just let us know how much you would like to pledge and your preferred payment schedule, and we will handle the rest. While capital campaign pledges can be paid over a period of years, Annual Fund pledges need to be paid in full by June 30.