School Foundations

Starting a School Foundation

Looking to raise additional money for your district? That's not the only reason why you should have a school foundation. In addition to the financial benefits, a foundation also engages your community in the process of improving your local schools and gives citizens another avenue to make their voices heard.

Why Should Your School District Have a School Foundation?

  • A school foundation is a positive PR tool for your school district.
  • Engages your community in the process of improving your local schools.
  • Gives citizens another avenue to make their voices heard.
  • Builds a new audience of ambassadors and monetary supporters (donors) of your schools.
  • Builds bridges to new non-parent audiences, including: single people, empty nesters, senior citizens, retired employees of the school district, non-resident community leaders, high school alumni, political figures, businesses, community groups, other foundations and charities.
  • Will attract additional funds and other resources, often from outside your community.
  • Will provide a legal, professional mechanism to collect and administer funds.
  • Will make available some grant opportunities for which your school district is not, by itself, eligible.
  • Will avoid some legal and political limitations and entanglements that district funds are subject to.
  • Will provide a means for people to show their support for and gratitude to schools.

15 Steps to Starting Your School Foundation:

  • Create your planning committee to conduct a feasibility study and research.
  • Get legal and financial advice from experienced professionals.
  • Determine your source of start-up cash for fees and administrative expenses.
  • Determine your source of administrative staff support for your foundation.
  • Select your initial board of directors. Choose officers, meeting times and places and committees.
  • Draft and adopt your foundation's name, mission, vision and board member job description.
  • Determine an address and telephone number for your foundation.
  • Design your foundation's logo, letterhead and image items.
  • Apply for a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN), select a bank and open accounts for your foundation.
  • Draft and submit your foundation's Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws, according to the laws of your state or province.
  • File for nonprofit charitable status with the Internal Revenue Service: 501(c)3.
  • Consider buying insurance for your foundation and board of directors.
  • Develop your foundation's strategic plan for the next few years.
  • Begin developing policies for money management, investments and other issues.
  • Publicize your foundation. Develop partnerships with other groups. Raise and disburse funds according to your mission.

Source: Mark Havens, author of the NSPRA publication Dream Big: Creating and Growing Your School Foundation.

Other Resources

School Foundation Planning Kit

American Schools Foundation Alliance
The American Schools Foundation Alliance is a not-for-profit organization established to provide productive resources, tools and guidance for education foundations to advance public education in the United States. Their mission is to create a nationwide community of education foundations and to serve those foundations by providing essential and timely information to ensure their success.