Build it in Your Community

If you are a school, community agency or donor interested in bringing a model like this to your community, this section will provide information on key readiness indicators, advice from participating schools, tips on how to adapt the model components to fit your unique culture, and links and resources to help get you on your way. Check out our video on “Advice from Participants:”



    lightDefining Middle Income Affordability in Your Community

    In order to understand who comprises your middle-income population, and how your school or community has historically supported (or not) this population, do some research. Examine your state or county’s cost-of-living projections to see what a minimum subsistence level is for a family of two working parents and two children. You can then adjust the projections for larger or smaller families depending on your community’s demographics. Be sure to clarify what Jewish costs are essential to your values as a community (see question #1 below) and include these factors as well!

    Some questions to consider:

    • 1) What is the cost of living a Jewish life in your community (kosher food, synagogue membership, summer camp, Israel trips, school tuition)? Do you want to consider any or all of these costs in calculating income needs?
    • 2) What are the demographics of your school? What % are receiving tuition assistance?
    • 3) Do you have a “ceiling” or a cut-off income level above which you won’t even consider a family for tuition assistance?
    • 4) Is there a maximum % of tuition that you are willing to provide each family in financial assistance?
    • 5) Is there a maximum tuition assistance line in your budget above which you will not allocate additional assistance?
    • 6) What is your messaging regarding the availability of tuition assistance? Is it an open message or one that deters families from applying for fear of rejection, ridicule or just being uncomfortable asking for help?

    Check out how we defined affordability in Los Angeles.


    lightAn Understanding of Endowment

    Endowment is a long-term process and one that isn’t necessarily intuitive – why raise money whose principle you can’t ever touch and whose interest you don’t begin benefitting from for at least a year? How can you show immediate impact of an endowment gift? The understanding of and belief in endowment, recognizing its importance and the impact it can have on your school’s financial viability are vital components in order to begin changing the culture of giving in your school or community.

    Some questions to consider:

    • 1) Does your community have a Federation or Foundation that supports or promotes endowment efforts?
    • 2) Do other non-Jewish private schools in your community have endowments? What is their value?
    • 3) If you had an endowment what would your school do with it? What is your 25-50 year vision?
    • 4) Does any other Jewish school, synagogue or communal organization incorporate endowment or planned giving into their fundraising efforts? Is endowment part of the vernacular in your community – Jewish or non-Jewish?
    • 5) Are there champions of endowment within your institution or community (see below)?
    • 6) Have you identified a trusted investment management vehicle where you can deposit endowment dollars?


    lightSchool Professional and Lay Leadership Buy-In

    A successful endowment effort is driven by strong leadership. One of the most important readiness indicators is having the buy-in and commitment from the professional leadership (Head of School) and the lay leadership (Board and non-board leaders).

    Some questions to consider:

    • 1) Does your Head of School already dedicate time to development?
    • 2) Does your board understand its role in actively supporting the school’s development efforts (with their time and their money)?
    • 3) Is there a culture, among at least some of your Board members, of successful face-to-face solicitations?
    • 4) Does your board have an interest in starting an endowment initiative? And do you have respected and inspiring lay and professionals leaders willing to lead this effort?
    • 5) Do you have champions – either at the school or communal level – who are willing to be spokespeople, financial supporters and workhorses for this effort?


    lightProfessional Development Staff & Resources

    Any development effort needs a dedicated quarterback to keep things moving forward, to initiate strategy/development plans and to make sure follow-through occurs to reach the end goal. Without a professional staff member dedicated to coordinating the school’s development efforts it will be incredibly difficult to achieve your goal. In addition, you need to consider your donor base and its capacity to support a sustained major endowment gift effort.

    Some questions to consider:

    • 1) Is there a least one dedicated staff person responsible for coordinating development efforts? Do they have time to focus on endowment in addition to annual campaign and capital campaign efforts?
    • 2) Do you have a track record of successful annual campaigns and has the campaign goal grown over time? Does this include a track record of successful face-to-face major gifts solicitations?
    • 3) Does your school have and use a donor tracking system?
    • 4) Is your Board willing to invest time and money in coaching or training your leadership team in the skills needed for endowment development?
    • 5) Have you identified a communal resource with planned giving expertise?


    lightSchool Stability

    Raising endowment is very challenging if schools are in crisis. Donors do not want to commit long-term investments to schools they do not believe will be in existence beyond a few years, whether due to financial instability, a leadership void, dwindling target population, or poor product quality.

    Some questions to consider:

    • 1) Is there any internal strife between your board and professional leadership?
    • 2) Does your Head of School have a contract beyond one-year or will it be renewed?
    • 3) Does your school have balanced annual budgets and manageable debt?
    • 4) Are you able to attract appropriate numbers of new students each year resulting in fairly stable enrollment? Is there a 10% or less attrition rate from year to year?
    • 5) What is your faculty/staff turn-over rate?
    • 6) Do your parent body and alumni value your product? Have you conducted any surveys to ascertain this?
    • 7) Is your school current on payroll and payroll taxes?
    • 8) Do you follow all state, federal and IRS regulations pertaining to schools? Click here for BJE’s Finance and Governance Guidebook.


    lightAccess to Expertise for Training and Coaching

    Beginning an endowment effort requires specialized training. While you need to develop an expertise in endowment development, you do not need to be an expert in planned giving. However, you do need to have a general understanding of the language and planned giving vehicles so that you can develop an appropriate endowment development plan and have meaningful conversations with donors.

    Some questions to consider:

    • 1) Do you have access to local coaches or experts that can support your efforts?
    • 2) Have you worked with coaches before?
    • 3) Is your school or community willing to invest in training the key lay and professional leadership?
    • 4) Do you have access to planned giving professionals?
    • 5) Are there local or national organizations focused on endowment development, which you can join and in which you can actively participate?


    lightCommunal Scaffolding

    Changing the communal culture to define and recognize the needs of middle-income families, and building endowments to sustain them, requires focused efforts. In every institution, many competing priorities and interests can easily derail efforts. It is much easier to stay focused on the task at hand if you are part of a larger effort that both provides support and requires accountability. In addition, it is easier and cheaper to create a message regarding middle-income needs and the availability of and consideration for tuition assistance to accomplish as a community-wide coordinated effort.

    Some questions to consider:

    • 1) Are there enough schools in your community (3-5) “ready” and willing to cooperate in a community-wide effort in order to create an effective cohort? If not, can you join a national cohort?
    • 2) Is there a central agency or Federation that has already established a trusting relationship with schools in the community? Are they willing and able to champion and provide the necessary support and training to assist schools with this effort?

    Check out PEJE’s Endowment Readiness Quiz for a quick checklist to see if your school is ready to build an endowment. Stay tuned for a complete Endowment Readiness Assessment (ERA) which is currently in beta-testing!


    Here is a step-by-step plan to adopt or adapt LAHSAI in your community:

    lightMake sure you can describe your school’s 100 year vision

    What will the next two generations experience as members of your school community? Will Jewish educational opportunities be accessible and affordable? What measures of excellence can you identify and what dreams do you have for further enhancing the day school education available in your community? If the answer to these questions is hard to come by it will be difficult to make the case for this type of initiative.


    lightDefine Middle-Income Affordability

    Know your population, evaluate financial aid processes and the demographics of those enrolled at your school, understand subsistence levels in your community and decide which costs of Jewish living to factor in when defining middle-income parameters. For more on defining affordability, check out Building & Living the Model: Defining Affordability and Indicators of Readiness: Defining Affordability.


    lightEnsure that key readiness factors are in place

    Is your school or community ready to tackle the issue of middle-income affordability and securing the future through endowment development? From defining affordability; to fostering an understanding and belief in endowment development; to access to support, training and structure from a central convening body; make sure you have the key readiness factors in place.


    lightCreate a Road Map

    The LAHSAI is based on a logic model that identifies the unique challenges of the Los Angeles community as well as key input factors and strategies, targeted constituencies, a program timeline, the desired outcomes of the program and the anticipated long-term outcomes of the program.

    We recommend creating such a road map for your school or community based on unique factors and realities – there should be a centralized plan for communal progress and individualized plans for each school with recruitment & retention goals and endowment development benchmarks—all in the context of your school’s 100 year vision. Be sure to include the following:

    After defining the problem you are trying to solve, move to clearly articulating your school’s desired outcome for the program, what will success look like? (how will your school define success both in terms of middle-income affordability, development infrastructure and endowment dollars raised)

    • 1) Identify the necessary “Inputs” (e.g. Infrastructure needs for success – committed lay and professional leadership, local or national support, incentive funding)
    • 2) What strategies will you utilize to move the project forward? (e.g. define middle income affordability and need, create a marketing plan which includes case for endowment giving)
    • 3) Identify and engage “Target Constituencies” (e.g. what are the factors that contribute to middle-income families not enrolling in or dropping out of day school? what schools will be actively involved in the initiative?)
    • 4) Create attainable but significant benchmarks to keep your project moving forward and focused? (e.g. develop a middle-income recruitment and retention plan focused on either enrollment stability or growth; create development action plan which includes target cultivation, solicitation and stewardship moves)


    lightSecure Funding

    Significant resources are required to launch and sustain an initiative like this especially when attempting to change the communal culture; up-front funding to subsidize tuition for middle-income families, to create and enhance a development infrastructure and to incentivize and hold schools accountable to reach goals requires both time and monetary investment. In the Financial Model section we outline the budget and costs for the LAHSAI and provide recommendations based on this and subsequent initiatives in Los Angeles, for other communities or schools interested in adapting or adopting the model.


    lightEstablish Reporting & Evaluation Mechanisms

    Clearly articulate expectations and requirements of all participants (schools and communal conveners; lay and professional leaders in both types of organizations) in the initiative and define lines of communication to ensure progress and accountability to program goals. Benchmarks should be agreed upon together with the central agency or convening body and participating schools based on your community’s unique situation, characteristics and challenges. Reporting protocols, including school visits, performance reporting and a schedule of fund distribution, should be established and clearly communicated. Learn more about the Funding & Reporting Cycle here.


    lightContinuing Professional Development

    Through coaching and trainings, held either locally with a cluster of schools or virtually with a national cohort, participating schools can enhance their understanding of endowment development and middle-income recruitment & retention strategies. On a local level, where applicable, the central agency should work to identify coaches and facilitators on topics relevant to participating schools. Click here to learn more about the training and resources accessed by BJE on behalf of the participating schools.  On a national level, be sure to take advantage of virtual learning opportunities.


    lightBuild Networks & Share Success

    With the support of the central agency, or a national body such as PEJE, create opportunities to convene and share challenges and successes, learning from each school’s experience. If neither of these exists or is accessible, reach out to other communities (such as LA) or schools that are further along in implementing such an initiative or that might be interested in implementing such a collaboration. Learn more about how BJE convened participating schools by visiting “Model Components: Scaffolding for Implementation.”
    Click here to learn more about national communities of practice on a wide range of day school sustainability topics.


    LAHSAI Document Library

    Recruitment, Retention & Affordability  

    A Different View of Affordability – February 3, 2013 (presented by Measuring Success and PEJE)
    Learning From Parent Voices – February 2013 (published by PEJE and Measuring Success)
    Making Ends Meet – June 2010 (published by California Budget Project)


    Endowment Development

    DSAT: Development Self-Assessment Tool – developed by PEJE
    Volunteer and Staff Roles in Major Gifts Fundraising – developed by The Collins Group
    Sample Development Director Job Descriptions:


    Donor Management Systems – Idealware Review
    Sample Development Policy, Plans, and Tools
    LAHSAI Endowment Policy
    Roles & Responsibilities Planning Matrix – The Collins Group
    Sample 12-Month Development Plan – PEJE
    Sample Moves Management Grid – Created by Jennifer Weinstock for PEJE
    LAHSAI Fundraising Case Statement
    Guidebook: Creating a Case Statement for Jewish Day School -PEJE
    Donor Prospect Sheet– Janet Levine Consulting
    Sample Pledge Agreement
    Pledge Agreement Form Blank
    Creating Gift Acceptance Policies – Beth Engel, Associate at Gardner, Carton & Douglas
    Understanding and Drafting Gift Acceptance Policies – Kathryn W. Miree
    Sample Gift Acceptance Policy


    Perhaps one of the most comprehensive resources centers for endowment development is PEJE’s Endowment Knowledge & Resource center. With sample documents, tips for success, videos and articles it is a one-stop shop for everything day school endowment related.

    One of the greatest illustrations of the concept of waiting now to reap benefits with interest later is the Marshmallow Test, originally conducted by Stanford University: