From the Office of the President
November 16, 2018

Greetings St. Francis School Parents and Guardians,

Considering the magnitude of the goals included in the Master Facilities Plan, the effort to implement the plan is an extraordinary undertaking for the St. Francis of Assisi School community, requiring significant resources to achieve success.  In the spring of 2017, the Planning Committee retained the services of a professional fundraising company to conduct a pre-campaign feasibility study and planning study to test the school's readiness and capacity to conduct a capital campaign to fund the elements of the campus master plan.  

In addition to evaluating capacity and readiness, the study: informed participants about the school's needs and plans; determined reaction to and gathered advice about the case for support; identified potential campaign leaders and donors; tested the willingness of participants to lead, serve, advocate, and give; identified potential obstacles to success; and developed a campaign plan.  Forty-eight strategic conversations were completed and over 1,000 electronic surveys were distributed to the broader school community. We had an impressive 89% response rate to the survey.

The study findings identified the following views on St. Francis of Assisi School:
  • 92.7% of respondents overall have a very positive/positive perception of SFA.
  • 94.6% of respondents believe SFA leadership is excellent/good.
  • 89.2% believe academics are excellent/good.
  • 95.2% of respondents are satisfied with their involvement.

The following strengths were identified during the strategic conversations:  community, Catholic values and character, faith foundation, academics, faculty and staff, administration, parent engagement, technology integration, student leadership development, beauty of the campus, extracurricular activities and focusing on the whole child.

Several challenges were also identified during the strategic conversations: lack of philanthropic culture at SFA, limited parent engagement, deficient space and parking, parish disconnect, support for both ends of the learning spectrum, focus on the arts, lack of a gym, need for growth of the school, and competition from other schools.

In reaction to the overall case for support, 88.3% of respondents had a very positive/positive reaction to the key elements of the Master Facilities Plan:  Expand preschool/pre-K program (83.4%); New kindergarten classrooms (83.3%); New multi-purpose building (87.8%), Redesigned school entrance and lunch area (85.7%), and Expand administration building and re-purpose Fr. Seamus Glynn Center (85.4%).

Based on the finding that 83.7% of the respondents believe that SFA should move forward with a campaign, the study provided recommendations and best practices for success:
  • Create a phased and sequential approach.
  • Secure gifts and commitments over a three-four year pledge period.
  • The campaign must be an institutional priority requiring an investment of time and energy from school leadership.
  • Hire a Campaign Director to manage fundraising functions as well as support cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship activities.
  • Hire  administrative support to assist with fundraising functions including gift processing and acknowledgements.
  • Invest in infrastructure to support the campaign administrative needs.
  • Recruit a volunteer team to advise and support essential fundraising responsibilities.
  • Build a culture of philanthropy within the school community.
  • Maintain strong communication about the project and the campaign.
  • Increase awareness and relationships with alumni and alumni families, among the tri-parish communities and clergy, and among the surrounding communities.
  • Broaden parent and alumni volunteer engagement.
  • Identify meaningful ways to increase presence of priests, deacons, and nuns on campus.

Based on the study findings and on the plan, we have spent the past year organizing ourselves and preparing for success. We have:
  • Reorganized roles for administration to best support the School's goals, including fundraising
  • Recruited and been working together with a volunteer Campaign Council
  • Finalized our Campaign Plan including three-phases of fundraising goals
  • Hired a Campaign Director and secured additional administrative support for fundraising operations
  • Focused on alumni engagement in the celebration of the School's 20th Anniversary
  • Shared our vision for the School's growth at several small gatherings with potential donors
  • Developed a database of prior donors and prospective donors
  • Designed and developed Campaign communications that are being utilized in private prospective donor meetings, including a Campaign case brochure, one-pager, videos and listing of naming opportunities and pieces for the SFA community including a Campaign website and Campaign emails from the President

We've been busy... and there is much yet to do! As I reflect on the past year, and all the people who have enthusiastically supported our new Campaign with their investment of time, advice and resources, I am truly grateful. My wish is that you, too, are thankful for all of your blessings and enjoy the Thanksgiving break to refresh, renew and remember all that God has done -- and is doing -- for us.  

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tom Waszak

5330 Eastside Circle
Yorba Linda, CA 92887
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