Fundraising That's So SA
Over the past number of months, I’ve found myself asking a lot of questions related to my work and role at Sonoma Academy. Much as our teachers spent the summer reimagining and reinventing how they would teach in a remote format, I have been wondering how we could reinvent and reimagine fundraising at Sonoma Academy. Amidst this global pandemic, without the ability to gather, to get to know each other, to celebrate our school in the typical ways we have done for the past 20 years, what is the core essence of our fundraising efforts?
When I first arrived here, I knew that I had found a special school. From day one, I wanted to run our fundraising efforts in a way that was just as innovative as this amazing school. We are entrepreneurial, bold, and creative in our approach to education, from the way we teach biology using case studies to our new Impact projects that allow students to learn through meaningful service. Why shouldn’t our fundraising efforts be as unique as our programs are?
This year is the perfect year to rethink everything and to look for our “that’s so SA” way of realigning our approach to fundraising.
Philanthropy and the spirit of giving is central to the Sonoma Academy story since our earliest days. Our thirteen amazing founders, all seeing a need for a rigorous college preparatory school in Sonoma County, dug deep into their own pockets to make this school a reality. We have weathered financial storms through the generosity of our community. From the downturn of 2008 when the commitment to financial aid never wavered to the ways our families opened up their homes to members of our community during the wildfires of 2017 to earlier this year when we launched our Community Support Fund to support our families experiencing hardship due to the global pandemic, giving is inherent to who we are as a school and as a community.
Each year we raise approximately $1.5 million, between our annual gala (Big Night Out) and our Annual Fund efforts. For a school of our size, that is highly impressive. But true philanthropy goes beyond the annual. We want to rethink our fundraising approach and bring it from annual to perennial.
With the goal of creating a culture of giving that will sustain our school next year and for many years beyond, we are renaming the Annual Fund. Known now as the Sonoma Academy Fund, this effort is a new way to view giving that is “so SA.” The money raised by the Sonoma Academy Fund will support our school’s drive to innovate, reframe, and inspire, guided by our steadfast vision and deeply held values.
This year, we have had to embrace change, but that is nothing new for our school. While the Sonoma Academy Fund name and approach to fundraising will be a bit different going forward, our goals are the same. We seek to create a place that is familiar, safe, and warmly welcoming to parents, alumni, and new students alike. We strive to question our assumptions and create unique, meaningful programs that will captivate and challenge our students. We hope to establish exciting new initiatives that will connect us with the greater community and the world beyond the North Bay. We will keep evolving, imagining, and working together. We will focus on meaningful engagement and we invite you all to be involved in the Sonoma Academy Fund and our advancement efforts.
We have some fun in store for you this year. We look forward to sharing more details with you soon!
Kim Eber, Director of Advancement