My two younger children attend a wonderful Jewish Day School in NJ, Golda Och Academy. The school is a Solomon Schechter school, having started its life as the Solomon Schechter Day School of Essex and Union Counties. My wife graduated from SSDSEU and I went there through eighth grade. I am starting with all of this information partly to show how important the school is to my wife and to me, but also to preface a short blog post about the importance of Jewish Education, and most importantly, the importance of donating to schools like this.
It is a pretty well established fact that children who graduate from day school have a much closer connection to Judaism, Israel and the Jewish community in general. Our school and others like it produce students who will become leaders of Hillels and other Jewish groups on the college campus. Our children are spending time in Israel and doing Israel advocacy both at university and in the general community. Our students are living Jewish lives both inside and outside of the home, working to build a better world for everyone. Many of our graduates are sending their children back to our school, and I know that this is happening at many day schools around the country as well.
We love our school and we support our school. It was always curious to me that when our school embarks on its annual campaign, only about 50% – 60% of families participate! Like us, other families in the school feel very strongly about supporting the school. Like us, many families, living the middle class, find it hard to give when they are struggling every day to make ends meet. This, I clearly understand. However, I want to point out the importance of 100% participation.
First, by showing 100% participation, we send a very important message to the community at large. Our school is a special place and of utmost importance to all of us. Our school is worthy of community support.
Second, while donating to the school is not mandatory, it does show that you and your family have “bought in”. You are actively supporting the school where you are sending your most important assets, your children.
Third, tuition only covers a portion of the school’s budget. Balancing between ever increasing expenses and not wanting to raise tuition too much is a very difficult process. The school relies on the annual campaign and other fund-raising efforts in order to bridge that gap. To continue the exciting programs our school provides, fund-raising is necessary.
Fourth, our school reaches out to many other sources for donations. We receive grants from Federation, alumni, foundations, etc. When speaking with a perspective giver, how can we expect them to give to our school when the constituents are not giving at 100%? This is perhaps the most compelling reason for 100% participation.
Finally, and most importantly, no amount of money is too small. $18 or $36 may not seem like much, but if those who do not give were to each give $36 a year, we would be at 100% participation. It is far better for many small gifts than only a few large ones. I know that may sound odd, but philanthropists are looking to donate to organizations where 100% of the constituents are also donating. The only gift that is too small is the one that is never made.
Oh, and by the way, my oldest son goes to a special needs school which also has an annual fund to which we donate. Everything above applies to any great privately funded school!
I hope that my words might inspire more people in our school and in all other schools to donate to their annual fund. Even the smallest donation is greatly accepted and truly important.