Recently, Hawaii Business ran an article that focused on Punahou fund raising from the perspective of school president, Jim Scott. Given that we alumni are all recipients of these annual requests, I thought it would be interesting to learn a little more about the big picture. And, with tax filing season nearing its end, it might be good to consider increasing your charitable deductions for 2011.
Fund raising is a bread and butter operation at a school like Punahou. In October 2007, a Hawaii Business article estimated the school’s endowment at $150 million. Impressive, yes, but not when you compare it to Iolani’s $135 million–an endowment that serves approximately half as many students–do you understand that an uphill battle is being fought. (And let’s not even think about Kamehameha’s seven billion!)
As explained by Dr. Scott in the article, Punahou is expanding its fund raising reach both demographically and generationally beyond the small cadre of kamaaina families that has sent its children to the school for generations. With this expanded effort have come new approaches.
Among these has been a greater level of venture philanthropy, a hands-on approach in which individuals, couples or families come to charitable giving in the same way they would investing in a start-up or other business effort. This means that the donor expects returns early on and/or wants to be a catalyst for giving by issuing devices such as challenge grants.
The article also addresses the issue of the “whole picture” with the student as the focus. Noting that parents often feel that they have done their part when the tuition check is written (something with which I can empathize as the parent of four current and former Punahou students!) he also describes the need to increase parental involvement regarding the 20% of tuition that is covered by endowment and fund raising.
So, it’s nice to know that the school is broadening its base and involving a larger community in its financial outreach. As alumni we do appreciate the whole picture so be sure to play your part. Remember, it’s not whether you give $1 or $1,000,000 but that you participate. A high level of alumni involvement shows that the school has gone to its own well first … an important factor considered by foundations before they write their own checks.