Christ School

I wrote the Keeping the Faith, Extending the Legacy Campaign case statement for Allen MAC client Christ School in Arden, North Carolina.

Capital Campaign Case Statement

Keeping the Faith, Extending the Legacy: An Endowment Campaign for Christ School

Keeping the Faith, Extending the Legacy

Since its founding in 1900, Christ School has prepared thousands of boys for achievement and success. As Christ School graduates so clearly demonstrate, the value and importance of a Christ School education are truly beyond measure. The regard and gratitude shared by alumni, families and friends derive from the profound effects the school has had on their lives.

In February and March 2001, more than 160 alumni, parents, students, faculty members and friends of Christ School began a comprehensive, collaborative effort to clarify a shared vision for the school and to set goals and plan strategies necessary to realize the vision. From that process, a Strategic Plan emerged to guide the school through its next five years. As a crucial first step toward full implementation, the plan identifies an urgent need to increase the school’s endowment to more than four times its current level. Christ School will secure the needed funds through the $15 million Keeping the Faith, Extending the Legacy Campaign.

Campaign funds are designated to provide financial aid and scholarships for students, to endow ten chairs for master teachers and to support continuing professional development for the faculty. More than one-third of campaign proceeds are for general endowment, intended to supplement income from the designated funds as needed and to respond to other challenges and opportunities as they appear.

A successful endowment campaign will enable Christ School to move forward into its next century of service as a strong, dynamic learning community. As you consider your level of commitment, you are encouraged to recognize Christ School’s Keeping the Faith, Extending the Legacy Campaign as an opportunity to affirm your belief in the school’s mission, value and performance while making certain our beloved school will forever endure.

The Christ School Learning Community

As an independent Episcopal preparatory school for boys in eighth through twelfth grades, Christ School is an exceptional community of learning. Christ School began in 1900 as a mission school for local boys and girls. When a public school opened nearby in 1927, Christ School redefined its role and redirected its efforts to become a school exclusively for boys.

Counter to what the school’s administrators see as an ill-advised trend toward co-education for all, Christ School has steadfastly remained a single-gender school. By staying focused on our mission and directing all our energy toward understanding and filling the special needs of boys, we have preserved the integrity of our program while improving its quality and effectiveness. Particularly since 1993, under the inspired leadership of the Rev. Russell W. Ingersoll, and with unprecedented support from all our constituencies, we have made dramatic advances by every measure of achievement and success.

Christ School has remained and will remain a relatively small school. Researchers in education have found teachers at smaller schools to be more likely to collaborate and cooperate as part of a close-knit learning community. Christ School teachers have continually demonstrated their commitment to the academic, spiritual and social development of their students, and they believe deeply in the value and importance of their contributions to the mission of the school.

Since students and teachers live together on campus, the Christ School learning community offers countless opportunities for caring adults to observe all the boys in a broad range of circumstances and situations. As they get to know their students, teachers and administrators discover untapped potential in every single boy and work together to ensure that each student will develop to his personal best.

The Christ School academic program is sharply focused on core disciplines, with honors and advanced placement courses available throughout the curriculum to allow each boy challenging opportunities to excel in his strongest subjects. Our standards are high, and we push our boys to strive and excel at every level of course work. Graduates leave Christ School with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in college and later, in life.

Religion and spiritual concerns are foundational in every aspect of the life and work of the Christ School community. As recent news stories have shown, some of the best-educated and brightest people will, if morally and ethically deficient, violate the trust placed in them. Christ School has always considered the nurturing of character and Christian values to be every bit as essential as academic preparation, athletics and development of social skills.

As Christ School’s reputation has spread and more families have applied for admission, we have become more selective of our students. In addition to evaluating each boy’s need for and ability to benefit from our program, we increasingly consider each applicant’s potential as a capable, contributing member of our learning community. As a result, the quality of our students has steadily improved.

At the same time, through the growing support of alumni, parents and friends, Christ School has been able to improve its campus facilities to unprecedented levels of function, condition and beauty. With conscientious maintenance provided in large part by the boys, our grounds are exceptionally well kept. Our buildings are in good repair and provide ample, attractive accommodation for the full range of programs and activities that contribute to the life and function of Christ School.

Christ School’s Vision for the 21st Century

Our vision is simple: For the next 100 years, to serve our society by serving its boys in the ways they most need to become men of nobility, motivated and capable of both doing good and doing well.

—The Christ School Strategic Plan

As educators, Christ School teachers and staff frequently encounter families who vastly underestimate the true value and potential of their sons. Through the Christ School program, boys and families come to recognize previously undetected possibilities and take steps toward their full realization. In much the same way, Christ School’s constituents have, in the past 10 to 15 years, come to regard the school with a renewed appreciation for the school’s potential. As never before, the school’s leaders recognize Christ School as not only capable of doing good and doing well, but as morally and ethically obligated to do so.

Once recognized, potential can be most effectively tapped when vision has been clarified and specific plans have been made to guide orderly, efficient forward momentum toward its realization. To that end, the trustees and administrators of Christ School recently began a process of introspection, evaluation and planning for the future of the school.

In two intensive two-day plenary sessions in February and March 2001, more than 160 students, parents, alumni, parents of alumni, faculty members and friends gathered on campus to lend detail and definition to their shared vision for the future of Christ School. Working in eight task forces, they prepared reports on virtually every aspect of the school. In May, the Strategic Planning Executive Committee met at Kanuga Conference Center to evaluate the reports and draft a plan. The following August, after further refinement, trustees approved the Strategic Plan.

The Strategic Plan articulates goals for maintaining the school’s character and strength as a thriving learning community well into its second century of service. Enrollment will remain at no more than 210 boys for at least the next five years. Through stepped-up marketing initiatives, Christ School will continue to generate the growing number of applicants needed to sustain continuing improvements in the qualifications and performance of our students. The possible benefits of any future growth will be weighed most carefully against the consequences of larger size. With or without growth in total enrollment, classes will continue to be small, typically with no more than 10 or 12 students.

The Strategic Plan states the school’s commitment to allocate sufficient resources to attract and retain excellent teachers and to offer them opportunities for professional development. The curriculum will continue as a focus of ongoing evaluation and advancement, always with an eye toward improving quality while balancing academics, athletics, religious education and the development of life skills. Even as Christ School actively pursues improvements to virtually every aspect of its program, the school will keep tuition at or near its present level so the school will remain competitive and affordable.

The Strategic Plan outlines several key alterations and additions to the campus, including ambitious plans for a new chapel, an expanded refectory, faculty housing, additional storage space for maintenance equipment, enhancements and additions to athletic facilities and new technology. Before moving forward with these plans, however, the plan calls on the Christ School community to build endowment by more than 400 percent.

The Need for Endowment

The one thing certain is that schools cannot have highly competitive salaries, affordable tuition, and small classes all at the same time. One of those variables must give way to the others. The exception to this calculus, of course, is schools with significant endowments.

—Patrick F. Bassett, President
National Association of Independent Schools

Christ School’s ability to realize competing goals outlined in the Strategic Plan is contingent on the school’s success in building its endowment. In determining the amount of additional endowment needed, the Strategic Plan’s authors considered the needs of the school in light of the realities of the marketplace. They regard competition among independent schools as genuine and fierce, and they assume it will continue to be so. As an alternative to public schools, independent schools also compete with families’ many other priorities and financial obligations.

During the 1990s, Christ School enrollment climbed from fewer than 150 to our strategic enrollment goal of 200. With a 33 percent increase in the size of the student body came a commensurate increase in tuition income. At the same time, the interest, enthusiasm and generosity of the school’s supporters also experienced dramatic growth. As a result, our facilities are in the best condition in the history of the school. The Christ School operating budget has been balanced for the past eight years. With enrollment now at the maximum level, however, and a clearly stated strategic imperative to keep tuition stable, the need for more endowment becomes apparent.

Among member boarding schools of the National Association of Independent Schools, the median endowment per student reported during the 2000-2001 academic year was $166,102. Christ School’s present $6.6 million endowment provides just $33,000 for each of our 200 boys. By identifying and seeking to fill Christ School’s need for endowment comparable to endowments at competing schools, trustees and administrators are making sure future generations of boys will have the opportunities our founders and supporters have made available to the thousands of boys we have educated during our first century of service.

The Strategic Plan presents an ambitious goal to raise the level of endowment by $15 million over the course of the five-year planning period. Christ School will secure the additional endowment funds through the Keeping the Faith, Extending the Legacy Campaign. Portions of the campaign proceeds will endow financial aid and scholarships, create ten master teacher chairs and sustain ongoing faculty development. A large portion of campaign proceeds will endow unspecified future needs and priorities, affording current and future administrations the greatest possible flexibility, security and confidence. Through prudent investment, ongoing reinvestment of a portion of income, and future gifts, the Christ School endowment will quickly grow to be an ample, permanent foundation upon which the school can confidently rest well into our next century of service and beyond.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

The trustees and administrators of Christ School have long believed a family’s ability to pay the full cost of a Christ School education should not be a deciding factor in determining whether or not a promising boy can attend our school. A better-endowed program of financial aid will enable us to offer broad and equitable access to our program while permitting greater selectivity in admissions to our student body. Merit scholarships will complement need-based awards, enabling Christ School to enrich its learning community with more students of truly exceptional talent and achievement.

While financial aid programs are often intended primarily as a means to maintain the school’s ethnic and racial diversity, the best programs are philosophically focused on providing equal  access to educational opportunities for a diverse group of deserving students. Through targeted marketing strategies, Christ School will attract a diverse pool of applicants who reflect a broad social and economic mix. Once the admissions staff identifies the best qualified applicants, the strengthened financial aid program will effectively remove financial barriers that might otherwise prevent any worthy applicant from enrolling and staying enrolled until graduation.

The educational marketplace of the 21st century will grow increasingly competitive as schools vie for the best qualified students. At the same time, the segment of the population able to afford the full costs of a private school education for their sons and daughters is declining and will continue to shrink. The number of families, who in years past considered themselves financially able to send their sons to Christ School, will continue to diminish. More families will seek help, and the endowment for financial aid and scholarships will make Christ School a viable, attractive choice. The income from $3 million of the Christ School Keeping the Faith, Extending the Legacy Campaign proceeds will be used for financial aid and scholarships.

Endowed Master Teacher Chairs

In a survey of administrators by the National Association of Independent Schools, respondents identified the ability to hire and retain excellent teachers as the single most important factor in determining the quality of a school. Also among the ten most important contributors to quality, survey respondents cited the school’s ability to keep students motivated and enthusiastic about learning, to challenge students to do their best, and to maintain a climate that values and supports academic excellence—all factors most directly influenced by teachers.

Christ School is truly blessed to have teachers who are bright, enthusiastic, dedicated and caring. They bring positive expectations, inspirational leadership and a full complement of teaching skills and motivational techniques to serve each Christ School student. They genuinely love working with growing boys and derive deep personal satisfaction from their students’ success.

Like many educators, Christ School teachers are intelligent, well-educated, competent people. Many of the qualities that distinguish outstanding Christ School teachers would serve equally well in business or industry, most likely with greater financial reward. By using a portion of the Keeping the Faith, Extending the Legacy Campaign proceeds to establish and support ten master teacher chairs, Christ School will effectively extend our faculty career ladder to recognize the highest levels of experience and qualification.

The ten new master teacher chairs, distributed strategically among the school’s departments and disciplines, will enable Christ School to reward its faculty members more generously with recognition, career advancement, greater challenge, more fulfilling work and higher pay. Along with prestige and pay raises, Christ School’s master teachers will assume additional responsibilities and exert more influence on the academic policies and practices of the school. A master teacher might serve as a mentor to a novice, assist and support peers, participate in performance evaluations, create new instructional tools or lead curriculum development efforts in his or her discipline.

The ten endowed master teacher chairs supported by the Keeping the Faith, Extending the Legacy Campaign will promote the best kind of professionalism among faculty members at Christ School to the mutual benefit of all concerned. The chairs will be funded by $5 million of endowment funds generated by the campaign.

Endowment for Faculty Development

Like all hard-working professionals, teachers must continually assess and reflect on their own practice. They must make time to attend to personal needs for reflection, self-care and replenishment if they are to retain vitality and successfully translate experience into accumulated wisdom. With support from the faculty development endowment, Christ School teachers will have continuing access to the development opportunities they need.

From a purely practical perspective, investments in faculty development reap significant, tangible returns in the school’s enhanced performance and competitive strength. A well-endowed program of professional development will boost teacher morale, enthusiasm and job satisfaction. As common sense would suggest and educational research has confirmed, heightened teacher morale leads directly to improved attitudes, interest, motivation and learning among students.

To be most effective, professional development efforts must be integral to the life of the school. The income from the campaign’s faculty endowment will fund a full range of ongoing development opportunities for teachers, both individually and in groups. Coursework, research, scholarly pursuits, special projects, workshops, retreats and sabbaticals will all have a place in enriching the faculty.

The Christ School Keeping the Faith, Extending the Legacy Campaign will generate $1 million in endowment for ongoing faculty development.

Unrestricted General Endowment

As we strive to maintain continuous quality improvements throughout our program, the cost of providing a Christ School education keeps growing. As a better-endowed school, we will be able to accelerate our pursuit of excellence while remaining competitive in the marketplace.

Growth in Christ School enrollment over the past few years has generated substantial increases in tuition income, while contributions to the Annual Loyalty Fund have reached record-breaking levels. While administrators have appropriately used tuition income and annual fund contributions to meet the immediate operating costs of an expanding program, enrollment has now reached capacity. Needs and opportunities for improvement will continue to accelerate while tuition revenues will remain level. By designating more than half the proceeds of the endowment fund for general, unrestricted use, Christ School will counteract the effects of stabilized enrollment while continuing our avid pursuit of excellence.

The discretionary funds generated by the general endowment will enable the leaders of the school to move forward with confidence. With a strong general endowment, small problems can be solved before they become big ones. Good ideas can be acted upon in a timely fashion. Classrooms can be enriched with current learning tools as they become available. Freed from the constant need to solve chronic, urgent financial problems, the school’s administrators and trustees can focus on making sound, well-considered decisions and forward-reaching plans.

Income from the general endowment may be used as needed to supplement and extend any of the other priorities supported by the endowment fund and the Annual Loyalty Fund. With the campaign’s $6 million general endowment in place, Christ School will be well prepared to weather future economic downturns without ever being forced to compromise our programs, increase our enrollment or raise tuitions against our better judgment and ideals.

Your Response

Christ School has always been a small school with large ideas and a compelling mission. Each year, Christ School graduates a small number of young men, representing only a tiny fraction of their cohorts. While their numbers may be miniscule relative to the whole, the collective, cumulative force and benefit of our graduates’ contributions to society are most significant.

Christ School is particularly fortunate to have so many alumni who freely and gratefully acknowledge the value of their years at the school. They have experienced personally the benefits of our program, and they recognize and appreciate the difference the school made in their lives. Likewise, the parents and grandparents of our students see and celebrate the intellectual, spiritual and physical growth we so diligently work to foster in their boys.

As a loyal member of the Christ School community, you know firsthand the value of the Christ School experience. Through the years and particularly in the past decade, you and your fellow alumni, parents, grandparents and friends have faithfully expressed your loyalty and gratitude to Christ School with generous annual gifts and significant capital contributions. Your gifts have allowed the school to make its facilities as good or better than any competing boarding school in the country. The program is the strongest it has been in the history of the school. Our students are bright, well-qualified and motivated to work hard.

Your generous response to the $15 million Keeping the Faith, Extending the Legacy Campaign will challenge fellow contributors to join you in creating a lasting legacy while spurring the campaign to a fully successful completion. With your gift, you demonstrate your abiding faith in Christ School and effectively extend its proud legacy into the next century and beyond.

Campaign Priorities

Financial Aid and Scholarships$3,000,000
Master Teacher Chairs5,000,000
Faculty Development1,000,000
General Endowment6,000,000

Naming & Memorial Opportunities

In planning the Keeping the Faith, Extending the Legacy Campaign, a number of naming and memorial opportunities have been created to recognize exceptional levels of generosity. You are encouraged to review them and consider which among them would be most meaningful for you and your family.

[List here]

Gifts Needed to Raise $15 Million

No. of GiftsGift Level (Per Year)Total
1$  2,000,000 ($400,000)$2,000,000
31,000,000 ($200,000)3,000,000
5500,000 ($100,000)2,500,000
6250,000 ($50,000)1,500,000
15100,000 ($20,000)1,500,000
3050,000 ($10,000)1,500,000
6025,000 ($5,000)1,500,000
15010,000 ($2,000)1,500,000

Ways of Giving

Donors may make one-time gifts or may fulfill their pledges over a period of five years. Gifts of cash as well as gifts of stocks, bonds, real estate and other assets of value are welcome. Christ School is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization; all gifts are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law. Various options for giving are outlined below.

Current Giving Opportunities

Cash. Money by check is the easiest and most common way to make a gift. Cash gifts may be used annually as charitable deductions on your federal income tax return to offset up to 50 percent of your adjusted gross income. You may carry forward any unused deductions over the next five years.

Appreciated Securities. Gifts of appreciated securities such as stocks, mutual fund shares and bonds, which you have owned longer than six months, are fully tax-deductible charitable contributions, including the difference between what you paid for the security and its market value when donated. Such gifts are deductible annually up to 30 percent of your adjusted annual gross income on your federal tax return with the same five-year carry-over deduction provision as cash gifts. Remember that you must give the security itself, rather than selling it first and giving the cash, in order to avoid paying tax on the capital gain.

Real Estate. The same tax advantages that apply to stocks and bonds also apply to real estate. You may give acreage, a farm, a lot, a house, a commercial building, or any other kind of real estate held longer than six months and receive a charitable deduction for the full market value and also avoid taxes on the profit. 

Tangible Personal Property. You may give any other asset of value; for example, an automobile, a painting, a coin collection, a piece of jewelry or equipment, etc., and receive a charitable deduction.

Corporate Gifts. Corporations are permitted by law to give away to qualified charitable organizations up to 10 percent of their pre-tax profits in any given fiscal year. This provision is a double tax saving in that neither the corporation nor the individual is taxed on the gift.

Deferred Giving Opportunities

In addition to current pledges to the campaign, alternate giving strategies should be considered. Listed below are several planned or deferred giving opportunities that will enable you to make an even larger overall response to Christ School.  The campaign consultant will be glad to review which type of planned gift is most appropriate for you.

Charitable Gift Annuities. A gift annuity is a contract between you as the donor and Christ School where, in exchange for a gift of cash or marketable securities, Christ School will promise to pay you a guaranteed income stream for life. The annuity can be for one life or two, which means you and your spouse can enjoy this income stream at a percentage based on your life expectancy.

Charitable Remainder Trusts. Individuals most often use a charitable trust with low basis assets that produce little or no income. Selling the asset and reinvesting for income will generate an unacceptable capital gains tax. When the asset is gifted to a charitable remainder trust, no capital gains tax is paid so the full amount can be reinvested to provide lifetime income to the donor or the donor and spouse.

Charitable Lead Trusts. A charitable lead trust is the opposite of the remainder trust. It provides an income stream to Christ School for the term of the trust and then trust assets revert to family-typically children or grandchildren. The primary benefit to the donor of a lead trust is that it can produce significant gift tax as well as estate tax savings while shifting assets to heirs outside of the estate.

Life Insurance. By giving an insurance policy already in force, you will receive a charitable deduction for the cash value of the policy. You may take out a new insurance policy on your life, or assign one already in force, naming Christ School as the owner and beneficiary.  The premiums will be tax-deductible.

Retention of Life Interest Gift. You may give a personal residence or farm and retain lifetime use of the property. You will receive an immediate charitable deduction for the remainder value of the gift based on your age. The property is removed from your estate for tax purposes. The donor is responsible for taxes, insurance, and maintenance. At your death or the death of the surviving spouse, the gift becomes the property of Christ School.

Retirement Plan. You may name Christ School as the beneficiary of all or a portion of a retirement plan such as an IRA or Keogh Plan. The trustee of the plan will help you make that beneficiary designation. Upon your death, the gift will come to Christ School without probate. Or, if you choose, you can name a charitable remainder trust the beneficiary of the retirement plan. Then your heirs can receive the income for life or a term of years with the remainder going to Christ School.

A Living Trust. You may name Christ School as a co-owner with right of survivorship of any savings account.  Upon your death, that account becomes the property of Christ School automatically and without probate.

A Bequest Through Your Will. You may name Christ School in your will, or in a codicil to your will, for a specific dollar amount, a percentage of your estate or as a final contingent beneficiary.

Gift Acceptance

The Christ School Board of Trustees must approve all gifts, other than cash and marketable securities.  The campaign consultant will be happy to assist you by providing additional information about making various types of gifts for your greatest tax advantage.

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