FAQs About the Christian School Foundation and How It Operates
The Christian School Foundation is still a relatively young organization. As our profile grows across Canada, we encourage anyone who has a question about who we are or how we operate to send those questions to us. Over the first few years, we have addressed some questions more frequently than others. Those Frequently Asked Questions are answered here.
Q#1 – The Christian School Foundation is a relatively new Foundation. How did it start?
A#1 – A number of regional Christian school foundations and school-specific foundations were established in the 90’s, but in 2012 they began to explore how they could be more effective if they worked together. Three of these groups – the Central Ontario Christian Education Foundation (COCEF), the Grand River Association for Christian Education (GRACE) Foundation, and the Foundation for Niagara & Hamilton area Christian Schools (FNHCS) – decided to combine their efforts and by way of a formal amalgamation in 2014 they established one central Foundation that could more effectively provide Foundation services to Christian schools across Canada. Since then, the Ontario Association of Christian Schools Foundation, the London District Christian Education Foundation, and the Chatham District Christian Education Foundation, along with dozens of individual schools have joined this collective effort. So, while the Christian School Foundation as we know it now is relatively young, its roots extend further back in time.
Q#2 – Who does the Christian School Foundation Serve?
A#2- We draw Christian schools and donors together to expand the influence of Christ in our culture. As part of this mission we serve two groups: Canadian Christian schools and donors. Currently we have nearly 75 member-schools from Ontario, Quebec, PEI and Alberta and any Christian school that is a Canadian registered charity can join the Foundation, subject to fulfilling membership requirements.
Q#3 – How do you serve Christian schools?
A#3 – Primarily in these ways:
- We serve our schools through the prudent investment of our schools’ collective pool of long-term assets. In doing this, the Foundation also helps protect these assets.
- We expand the number of ways donors can support the mission of the school(s) they love.
- We work with Movement donors to address key areas that Christian school leaders have identified.
- We motivate and equip Christian schools to have the important conversations with their supporters around gifts left in Wills, other estate gifts, and planned gifts.
Q#4 – What guides the investment decisions, once the Foundation holds a school’s long-term assets?
A#4 – The full text of our Investment Policy is avilable HERE. It strikes a prudent balance between the protection and preservation of principal and the ability to seek modest but meaningful returns that would not be easily accessible to each school on its own. By investing collectively, and by transferring title to one central foundation, we have access to certain investment tools that each school simply could not access. Our Investment Committee, which has members from across our member schools with a very high degree of investment intelligence, reviews this policy on a yearly basis, adapting it as our asset pool grows. All Investment Committee recommendations regarding overarching investment strategies and any changes to the Investment Policy or the committee’s mandate, are fully reviewed before consideration and approval by our Board of Directors.
Q#5 – How do you expand the number of ways donors can support the mission of the school(s) they love?
A#5 –Donors can give gifts in the forms of cash and cheques (“traditional gifts”) directly to the schools, but they can also give “Non-Traditional Gifts” such as appreciated securities or property. Donors can give through Donor-Advised Funds, Donor Directed Funds, through immediate or deferred gifts, through Revocable Deposit Agreements and in a whole host of other ways. Donors can give to support one school, several schools, or to support a particular initiative across all the Christian schools. The Foundation makes all of these options straight-forward, so that donors have a one-stop experience with a professional partner that helps them achieve their charitable-giving priorities.
Q#6 –How do you work with Movement Donors to bless our schools?
A#6 –We work with Movement donors to address key areas that Christian school leaders have identified. Movement Donors are people who want to see the movement of Christian education thrive. School leaders have requested support that can encourage the more effective inclusion of students with special needs, enable schools to try innovative new educational programming or professional development ideas, or to extend the reach of their tuition assistance programs. We have, or are developing, Funds to provide support in all of these areas. Click HERE to see the various grant-making programs available to Foundation member schools.
Q#7 – How do you motivate and equip Christian schools to have the important conversations with their supporters around gifts left in their Wills, other estate gifts, and planned gifts?
A#7 – In the long-run, this is our most important work. God has gone ahead of our schools to open the hearts and minds of supporters so that they recognize the powerful ways in which Christian education can expand the influence of Christ in our culture. Moving forward, thriving Christian schools will be ones that engage their supporters in that mission by asking if they would be willing to bless their school through a gift left in their Will. Yet many of our Christian schools just don’t have the resources or experience to engage their supporters in these kinds of conversations and they aren’t well-positioned to make it easy for their supporters to respond. By equipping schools to engage in these conversations, and then by providing straight-forward tools to enable such gifts to be established, the Foundation can help schools tackle the future with creativity and a confidence borne of an assurance of God’s provision.
Q#8 – Can the Christian School Foundation enable me to support my family by funding their tuition?
A#8 – Absolutely not. The Christian School Foundation is a grant-making organization that supports Christian schools and we do our utmost to ensure we are not creating taxable advantages that would not be acceptable to the CRA. We are rigorous in our high standards of compliance with all the rules and regulations that guide the work of charitable public foundations in Canada. If we have questions around compliance we consult with outside professionals and the CRA itself to ensure that any gift we receive is properly defined as a gift, and that any program or organization we support is appropriately supported by our Foundation, and that all our practices are above reproach.
Q#9 – How does the Christian School Foundation serve donors?
A#9 – We serve donors by providing professional service of the highest integrity. Our approach is very donor-centric. We listen carefully to hear what philanthropic priorities are important to our donors. Then, we explore which means of giving is the right “fit” for their circumstances. Is it best to consider an immediate gift? A deferred gift? A gift that is disbursed over time? A gift that is built up over time and then disbursed? We invite input from the school(s) they hope to bless, if the donor is open to that conversation. Finally, we invite them to talk things through with other trusted advisors they may wish to consult (lawyers, wealth advisors, family members etc.). Once they are comfortable – even excited – about the way they have decided to structure their gift, we will work with them to finalize the details.
Q#10 – How does the Christian School Foundation fund its operations?
A#10 – We have three sources of operational income.
- Donations: General Donations, Seed Funding Donations, and Benefactor Donations. These are provided by people who see the need for an organization like ours and who want to see the Christian education movement blessed through our work. Additionally, 5% of our operating budget is provided by donors who contribute to the cost of administering the various bursaries and scholarship we have established. When transfers from reserve funds set aside to support the Foundation are included, these donations covered 71% of the Foundation’s operating revenue in 2018. We anticipate this percentage will be reduced over time.
- Revenue from Member Schools. These include School Membership Fees, which are currently set at $5/FTE Student and cover about 10.5% of our operating budget, as well as Management and Flow-Through Fees. Management fees are set at 50 basis points (0.5%) and are collected for the management of the pooled assets the schools have with the Foundation. The Management Fees currently cover about 16% of our operating budget. There is also a Flow-Through Fee of 1% for the processing of gifts such as appreciated securities or online donations, which covers 0.5% of our operating budget. Overall, this section of our income provides 27% of our revenue
- Other Revenue. This includes donations given by donors through Revocable Deposit Agreements held at Christian Stewardship Services as well as interest revenue. This covers about 2% of our operating budget.
Click HERE to see our current annual budget.
Q #11 – Does the Foundation use external fund managers for its investments? If so, what fee rates does it pay?
A #11 – The Foundation does have its assets diversified as required by government regulations. The Foundation currently uses two external fund managers. For assets held at Christian Stewardship Services, a rate of .65% is charged. For assets held at Jarislowsky Fraser, a rate of .60% (plus a custodial fee of 0.01%) for a total of .61% is charged. The administration fee assessed by Jarislowsky Fraser will continue to decrease as we reach certain thresholds. We are regularly in conversation with other fund managers to ensure these are the best options for our schools, given the principles outlined in our Investment Policy which you can read HERE.
Q #12 – Are the Foundation’s finances audited?
A #12 – Yes, from the inception of our Foundation in 2014 through 2018, our financial statements were audited by Grant Thornton LLP, a national Canadian firm of Chartered Professional Accountants. Our 2018-2019 Financial Statements were audited by RLB LPP Chartered Accountants. We post these audited financial statements on our website upon their approval by our Membership. The most recent copy can be viewed HERE.
Q #13 – What kinds of bursaries, scholarships or grants might a school receive as a member of the Christian School Foundation?
A #13 – The list of bursary, scholarship and grant programs offered through the Foundation continues to evolve as we work to meet the needs identified by school leadership. All our member schools can apply for grants, though some programs are restricted to schools in those provinces that receive no government funding. Currently, the following granting programs are in place. You can click on the names of each of these to learn more about its application process.
Communities of Belonging Grants
Excellence Through Innovation Grants
Continuing Education Scholarship Program
Christian Teacher Academy Grants Program
Additionally, we support our schools by providing subsidies for those who wish to participate in the annual Gauss Math Contest, and the professional development offerings that various schools will organize from time-to-time. In the past we have supported a Christian School Leaders’ excursion to High Tech High in San Diego, and a Christian School Leaders’ exploration of the education system in Finland.
Finally, in partnership with Cardus, the Christian School Foundation is the funding partner for the Rozema Awards for Excellence in Teaching.