Working Smarter Together: How a Province-Wide Movement Was Born
For decades, Christian schools in Ontario have effectively used short-term fundraisers to achieve balanced budgets and to minimize tuition increases. However, during the early to mid-1990s, several Christian school boards began exploring other ways to deliver stable, long-term funding.
Across Ontario, visionary school supporters and leaders began establishing foundations, or partnering with neighbouring schools to establish regional foundations. Between 1997 and 2001, three such Christian school foundations were started:
- The Central Ontario Christian Education Foundation (COCEF),
- The Foundation for Niagara & Hamilton area Christian Schools (FNHCS), and
- The Grand River Advancement of Christian Education Foundation (G.R.A.C.E. Foundation).
The goals of each of these foundations was the same:
- helping people use various forms of planned giving to create lasting support for Christian schools
- assisting with the rising costs of Christian schooling by creating other methods for people to give to Christian schools
- gathering funds in the form of outright charitable gifts, bequests in wills and trusts, memorial gifts on behalf of loved ones, gifts of real estate, securities, life insurance, deposit agreements, and charitable annuities and using these gifts to support schools into the future.
These foundations were effective in meeting their goals but supporters of the Christian school movement began wondering if there could be an even more powerful way to grow and strengthen their efforts. Discussions began in 2010 about the possibility of amalgamating the three existing foundations to create an Ontario-wide foundation. These ideas were formalized in 2011 at a roundtable that included representatives from all three, and soon thereafter a foundation steering committee was established.
The steering committee agreed that a larger foundation would be able to provide more extensive and efficient services than the three existing regional foundations on their own.
The new foundation would have strong funding infrastructure — due to its expertise in fundraising, governance, administration and reporting — that could be shared among all of the schools. It would be able to more proactively engage donors by offering more sophisticated products and services than the individual foundation were able to offer. A larger foundation would also be able to further grow an extensive network of allied professionals (accountants, lawyers, financial/investment advisors). The new foundation would be protected from the potential financial instability of individual schools and the resulting stability would attract more donors.
By early 2013, all three of the participating regional foundations had signed a memorandum of understanding, indicating their support for the process, with the goal of working towards a formal amalgamation agreement. In late 2013, the legal documents were drafted and Christian School Foundation (Canada) Inc. was chosen as the proposed name.
The Christian School Foundation, which was constituted in July 2014, increases the capacity of donors’ efforts and adds more value to every gift. This is accomplished because of five main factors:
- Expertise: The Foundation’s sole focus is supporting Christian education and it knows how to make donors’ gifts achieve maximum impact.
- Versatility: The Christian School Foundation can help donors support one individual school, several different schools, specific funds, or the movement as a whole.
- Continuity: The Foundation will remain consistent which the purposes for which it was established, while accommodating the wishes of the donors.
- Economy: The Christian School Foundation will see all fees earned through administering Donor Advised Funds ultimately used to further Christian education. The Foundation will also be able to administer funds more efficiently due to its larger size.
- Oversight: The Foundation will support your local school by providing mentoring and monitoring for your donation.
The Christian School Foundation helps strengthen its member schools’ ties to their supporting communities. Thanks to the leadership of visionary founders and supporters, it is positioned to provide even better support for the students and schools now and into the future.
The vision of the Christian School Foundation is to make Christian education excellent and accessible for everyone who wants it.