Annual Funds and Capital Campaigns: Compare and Contrast

At this time of year, when we celebrate many different kinds of holidays, and when many people think of giving back, non-profit organizations often ask their members to consider supporting them with a donation.  

This is what we do at Meadowbrook.  From November into December, we send letters to everyone in our community -- current and past parents, grandparents, alumni, faculty, friends -- to participate in the Annual Fund.  

We also just launched the Imagine More capital campaign last September.  

Many people have asked us:  what is the difference between the Annual Fund and the campaign?  Should we split our normal year-end gift to the Annual Fund so some of it goes to the campaign?

To answer that question, let's first start with the Annual Fund.

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At Meadowbrook, tuition covers roughly 80% of our total costs in any given year.  The rest of it is covered to a large part by fundraising -- mostly through the Annual Fund.

Contributions to the Annual Fund, then, support every aspect of the Meadowbrook experience -- from faculty salaries to professional development to technology to textbooks to utilities and facilities.  In a very important way, the Annual Fund makes Meadowbrook the wonderful experience it is for our students.  

Every year our costs increase -- mostly driven by our commitment to keeping faculty salaries within the top three of our competitors, reflecting our mission to know, love and challenge each child through our amazing teachers -- and tuition costs rise to address them.  It is vital that our Annual Fund increases every year in a commensurate way, as it is embedded in our operating budget.

Now, capital campaigns are similar to the Annual Fund in that they involve fundraising.  But while the Annual Fund supports every aspect of the Meadowbrook operating budget, campaigns have targeted goals, usually divided between endowment and building projects.  The Imagine More campaign's overall goal is $35 million:  $25 million to build a new Academic Commons and Lower School, and $10 million to add to our endowment.  Please see the home page of this site to see more details about these vital goals.  

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In addition, campaigns are different from the Annual Fund in that they tend to be cyclical:  they tend to last 3-5 years in duration, with years -- sometimes many, sometimes few -- between them.  In contrast, Annual Funds are conducted yearly and regularly.

At Meadowbrook, our Imagine More campaign is part of a long-term and carefully planned facilities and endowment program -- the natural result of our strategic plan as well as past campaigns.

So what do we advise our donors when we talk to them about the campaign?  We say:  first, please don't decrease your normal Annual Fund gift.  In fact, you may even consider increasing it slightly throughout the duration of the campaign and beyond, as it is part of our annual budgeting process.  Indeed, our biggest goal for the Annual Fund is to encourage 100% participation from all of our current parents.  

When you think about the campaign, think about our two goals -- to increase our endowment and to build the building that our children need to learn in today's classrooms -- and see if any of the campaign's initiatives speak to you.  And think about how you might want to make a special one-time contribution -- payable over several years if it is convenient -- to help the school move into the future. 

If you have any questions about any of our fundraising initiatives, please contact Janice Thompson, Director of Advancement, at  

Thank you!