Launching a new charter school is no easy task. Depending on the rules and regulations in your state, you are likely to face more red tape than you’ve seen to date, and you will need to get used to hearing “no.”
Should you give up? No — not before you have done everything you can to secure adequate funding for your upstart school, at least.
Funding is understandably essential to your new school’s success or failure. Line it up, and you’ll find the path ahead less bumpy. Start with these common sources of charter school funding, recognizing that not all may be appropriate for your school’s needs.
Try the Corporate Philanthropy Circuit
For many charter schools, sympathetic corporate donors — like regional financial institutions and Fortune 1000 firms with significant local employment bases — provide a disproportionate funding share. Don’t be shy about reaching out to these bigger players; they may be more sympathetic to your mission than you’d think.
Look for Deep-Pocketed Individual Benefactors (Angels)
Most individuals can’t bring the resources of a major corporation to bear, but civic-minded high-net-worth individuals are certainly out there. Having a few such “angels” on your side can make a big difference in your fundraising efforts.
Tap Like-Minded Foundations and Nonprofits
Larger foundations and nonprofits are perennial sources of charter school financing. Look for organizations whose mission and values clearly complement your school’s, as you don’t want to find yourself at odds with a key partner.
Run a Crowdfunding Campaign
This is easier said than done. However, with professional guidance and a compelling message, you may find yourself in a position to raise much of your initial capital requirement from small-dollar donors, both locally and farther afield. Be sure to follow all applicable state and local regulations here.
Consider a Formal Capital Campaign (With or Without Professional Help)
If you feel that your fundraising efforts are hitting a wall, consider launching a formal capital campaign, possibly with the aid of a professional fundraising outfit. Formalizing your fundraising procedures could give you the firepower necessary to meet your goals and stay on track.
Go in With Eyes Wide Open
Let’s not beat around the bush: Opening a charter school, however modest in size or ambition, is difficult work. Many in-the-works institutions never make it to opening day, and others struggle on for a school year or two before calling it quits.
Clearly, you don’t want to meet similar fates. Your funders, employees, and most importantly students are counting on you to find a way to succeed.
If you are not sure that you have what it takes to open a charter school of your own, know that you can give back to the community you love in many, many other ways. This needn’t be your only shot at making a difference in the lives of your neighbors.
If, on the other hand, you have every confidence that your charter school can and will become a success story, then you must do everything in your power to make it so. That begins with an eyes-wide-open approach to your fundraising efforts. When you know what you’re up against, you’re in a better position to overcome the odds.