Sure, But it Can Also Be Really Fun!

On a mid-December evening, nine intrepid members of our Waldorf School community gathered together in the Applied Arts Wing to undertake a special mission. Our School Chair and our Faculty Chair both were there, along with our Eurythmy teacher and the convener of our Parents’ Association. Indeed, represented on our team were all the many different groups which make up our school: teachers, administration, parents, board members, and the Leadership Team. We had all come together for a single purpose: the December phone bank to raise money for our Annual Fund.

Some of us are dedicated members of the Development Committee, who had been fundraising for the school for years. Others were stepping up now to demonstrate the commitment of WSP’s leadership to the crucial importance of fundraising for our school’s future health and growth.  Leading the charge was our own indomitable ball of energy, Allison Budschalow, Director of Development. The task before us was simple, but that didn’t make it easy. In modern America, most of us don’t like to talk about money, and the thought of asking for money – from our friends, colleagues or family – is a frightening thought indeed. No matter how worthy, how selfless, how inspiring our cause may be, we still don’t want to do it. We seem to feel that we’re all supposed to be self-sufficient, rugged individualists.

In the early years of our school’s development, we have often found it easier to ask one another to volunteer our time to support our school then to make a financial contribution. Yet both are equally fundamental ways in which the Waldorf School depends on the support of our community. Most of us know by now that tuition only covers about 90% of the cost of operating our school, so that every year we must raise the rest through auctions raffles, the Holiday Faire, and donations to the Annual Fund.

 So, why do we choose to structure our tuition this way? Why not just charge enough tuition of cover 100% of the annual budget? I was not personally a part of this decision, but my sense is that it helps us to keep our tuition as low as we can, while opening up the opportunity for each of us to express our support for the school and our passion for Waldorf Education through an additional donation. In this way, each of us can give what it works for us to give. By choosing to cover some of our costs each year through fundraising, we open up the possibility for the wider community to participate in supporting our school – our families and friends, our business associates, across Philadelphia and across the country. Suffice it to say that none of these noble notions was much use when it came time for me to actually get on the phone with other parents. What if they were annoyed by my call? What if it was as an intrusion on their otherwise pleasant afternoon? Despite the clear sense of purpose shared by all of us during the phone bank, I was still afraid to do it. But as I began to dial the phone and reach people, I found that everyone was happy to hear from me. Not everyone was able to give something right now; but most were. Not everyone was available to talk; but most were. All the parents I spoke with understood our school’s ongoing need for their support – in all ways. One parent shared with me that they had already been planning to increase their gift this year. Another parent said that it was really important to them “to give back” after everything our school had done for their family.  Another thanked me for doing a service for the school community by making these calls.  One parent was also touched to hear how much their individual gift meant to our overall efforts.

When we finished our calls, we had definitely raised some money for the Annual Fund, but more than that, we had made a real connection with many of our fellow Waldorf parents. We had made our community just a bit more real; just a bit more united around our shared commitment to the children, to their teachers and to Waldorf Education. It was fun! I can’t wait for the phone bank next year, and I invite you all to join us by supporting the Annual Fund!

Tom Gartner, pictured here with his wife, Kira, and two of his children, is a member of the WSP Development Committee and the Board Advisory Council.  More notably, he is the proud parent of Ally (Grade 7), Annika (Class of 2012), Will (Class of 2009), and Hannah (Class of 2006).

P.S. If you haven’t yet given to this year’s Annual Fund, please give now, before December 31 and your donation will be matched dollar for dollar up to $15,000 by a generous anonymous donor.