Adventist education remains a valued component of the North American Division (NAD) and its constituents. Yet at times our academies, as well as many K-12 (primary and secondary) schools, experience hardships and, unfortunately, schools close, leaving students, parents, and churches without such a valuable experience.
“No longer are subsidies and tuition income sufficient."
Tests and testimonials prove that students emerge from Adventist educational experiences with an education for which no apology is needed. More importantly, the corollary effects of spiritual and faith decisions, as well as opportunities for wholistic growth, are significant and observable.
So how can Seventh-day Adventist K-12 schools, and especially academies, maintain their quality and continue to grow as well? One vital aspect is finances—and fundraising. The Philanthropic Service for Institutions (PSI), a department of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the North American region, addressed these challenges and more during a February 2018 meeting with school representatives from across the division.
“Finances are crucial,” said PSI director Lilya Wagner. “No longer are subsidies and tuition income sufficient. A significant number of academies have engaged in fundraising, one aspect of academy operations that is relatively new and, at times, not accepted as a positive factor — or even a necessity.”
Wagner added, “Fortunately, the academies that can prove that fundraising does work in that educational setting are growing.” Proof of this came during a mid-February meeting of 14 of NAD K-12 schools, which were convened through PSI.
The mix of academies and one large elementary school ranged from those experienced in successful fundraising as well as newcomers to this professional endeavor, eager to undertake this type of program. During PSI staff-facilitated meetings that spanned two days, participants shared successful strategies, discussed problems and issues, learned new and useful information, and considered how more academies could become engaged in achieving sustainable income through fundraising.
“Paramount in the discussion was the concept, widely accepted in the non-profit world, that the context is highly important — the more successful the institution, the more people will want to see it move forward and will support it with funds,” said Wagner. “These 14 institutions are all part of an on-going program of PSI, the Model for Academy Philanthropy (MAP).”
The institutions include Thunderbird Academy (Ariz.), Greater Miami Academy (Fla.), Pine Forge Academy (Pa.), Fletcher Academy (N.C.), Mount Pisgah Academy (N.C.), North Dallas Adventist Academy (Texas), Red River Valley Junior Academy (Manitoba, Canada), Forest Lake Education Center (Fla.), Indiana Academy (Ind.), Highland View Academy (Md.), and Shenandoah Valley Academy (Va.), Greater Atlanta Adventist Academy (Ga.), and Forest Lake Academy (Fla.).
PSI also convened a meeting approximately a year ago of academies that have successfully implemented, maintained and expanded their fundraising, whether or not they were part of the MAP program. This group, the Advancing Academy Philanthropy (AAP) participants, was convened by invitation and offered a number of suggestions for programs and materials, most of which PSI has developed and disseminated.
While it is still true that fundraising is at times not practiced in some NAD organizations or subsectors, Wagner said that “it’s important to note that many schools in that most valuable subsector of the division — the educational system — have made great strides in engaging in fundraising and have seen results.” Whether these schools are part of the MAP program, or have received services other than through MAP, or have gone ahead on their own, their testimonials assert that fundraising works.
“Fundraising has allowed us to not turn away any student because of finances,” said PSI meeting attendee Janel Haas Ware, Development director and Alumni Relations for Shenandoah Valley Academy.
Success for us at Forest Lake Education Center with fundraising is partnership engaging,” said Chris Juhl, Forest Lake Education Center principal and meeting attendee. “It’s not about asking for money, it’s about people wanting to invest in a program that’s meaningful to the children.”
PSI is an office that serves the NAD and is a consulting service unlike any other in the Adventist system. Thanks to the vision of the NAD, all subsectors, from churches to schools to healthcare and all other organizations have expert training and consulting available at no cost. The PSI website lists many of these services as well as contact information.
“This is an unparalleled offering by the NAD to the constituent organizations and members of the NAD, and fortunately, many academies have taken advantage of this unique program,” Wagner said. “PSI is ready to respond to anyone from the NAD organizations and willing to aid in this endeavor, which has biblical roots and considers biblical counsel—that of raising funds for our worthy causes!”