Student-Led Fundraising at Small Private Schools

March 16, 2017 Liza Thompson

As a freshman at my all-girls private school, Ashley Hall, I was asked to help kick-start the beginning of the student Loyalty Fund where we called alumnae and asked them to donate money. I was initially interested because of the perks that were offered, but the first night of the fall ‘Phonathon’ I began to question what I had gotten myself into as I stared at my script and the long list of alumni that I was supposed to call and ask for money.  After I got over the first few calls I realized how much fun it was to be able to connect with alumnae who had attended my school years before there were uniforms and the fancy new buildings that currently adorn the campus. The majority of women I called had so many questions like if I was a ‘purple’ or a ‘white’ and what my role in the Christmas play had been. 

A student-run Loyalty Fund is something that not many schools have established or probably even thought about, but my high school’s student Loyalty Fund was beneficial to my school with meeting their fundraising goals as well as a rare experience that not many high school students are given.

Here are three takeaways from student led fundraising:

1. Alumnae would much rather be asked for money from students than administrators.

A phone call from a high school student who can relate to what it is like to attend the school and can chat about how it has changed from when the alumna was a student is a lot more personable than an administrator who cannot discuss these things with the same meaning as a student. Many of my phone calls were lengthy because the alumnae I spoke to had so many questions about what it was like to wear the uniforms that did not exist when they attended the school, what sports I played, how I enjoyed the new dining hall, etc. A lot of people answer phone calls where they are about to be asked to donate money waiting to give their polite refusal, but it can be a lot harder for people to say no when it is to someone who is now in the shoes that they were once in. Although a high school student has little to no understanding of fundraising, they have the ability to generate nostalgia and emotion that can convince someone to donate.

2. Student-led fundraising not only benefits the school but students as well.

Being a leader of the student-run Loyalty Fund, I learned a lot and gained more experience than most high school students have the opportunity to. My generation never has to speak on the phone because we have technology that makes it easy to communicate in other ways. When I first started on the student Loyalty Fund talking on the phone was foreign and intimidating to me, but because of my experience now, it is something that I feel a lot more comfortable with than most kids my age. As the head of the Loyalty Fund, I was also in charge of “Loyalty Fund Week” every spring where the students on the Loyalty Fund tried to engage the entire student body about the importance of giving to Ashley Hall by giving presentations, taking over the school Instagram, and creating social media challenges. Every year it was up to myself and the other students on the fund to decide what we wanted to do to make Loyalty Fund Week even better than last year’s, so we had to brainstorm our ideas and then present them to the administrators in charge of approving these ideas. As a high school student, this was another area of foreign territory where I rarely had to communicate to adults by telling them what I wanted to do instead of what they wanted to do, but my experience on the Loyalty Fund taught me to do so and made me more confident when speaking to adults.

3. It gets the students thinking about what donations they will make in the future.

Until I joined the Loyalty Fund I had never given much thought to where the money came from that paid for my school’s 3D printer or our fancy library. I never put much thought into it until I realized that if we didn’t meet our fundraising goals one year we couldn’t have the new running track that we desperately needed. When we finally got our new track I realized the impact the money had that was given to my school because I watched my friends who were on the track team talk about how running on the new tartan track felt a lot better than running on the concrete one, and how if they tripped over a hurdle it wasn’t going to hurt nearly as bad as it would have on the old track. Thinking about how these donations significantly impacted the quality of student life made me promise to my future self that one day I will contribute to the school that taught me for 16 years, helped me get into college, and was when I met some of the girls who will be my best friends for life. I hope that one day I will be on the Alumnae Loyalty Fund so that I can call my high school peers and ask them to donate to the school that turned us into the women that we are now and who we will continue to strive to be in the future. 

About the Author

Liza Thompson

Liza offers her perspective as a former Ashley Hall student. She's currently interning for the Blackbaud K-12 Marketing Group during a gap year. Liza will be going to school at Lafayette College in the Fall of 2017.

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