Harvard-Westlake School: Gold Award

2008 Circle of Excellence Awards Program
2A. Fundraising Programs: Annual/Regular Giving Programs
Harvard-Westlake School
Annual Giving Program


James Pattison
Senior Advancement Officer
Office of Advancement
700 North Faring Road
Los Angeles, CA 90077
(310) 288-3341


Alan L. Ball Director of Annual Giving
Casey K. Kim Asst. Director of Annual Giving
Brenda Janowitz Senior Advancement Adminstrator
Gregory A. O'Leary Gift Processor
Jill C. Shaw Dir. of Alumni Relations and Communications
Eli J. Goldsmith Asst. Director of Alumni Relations
James E. Pattison Senior Advancement Officer

2006-2007 Harvard-Westlake School Annual Giving Solicitation Program

The 2006-2007 Harvard-Westlake Office of Advancement had 11.25 full-time equivalents. Of these, 4 full-time equivalents handle the principle duties of the Annual Giving solicitations, gift processing, volunteer stewardship and acknowledgement. The lean staffing in the Office places a premium on effective volunteer management. Annual Giving is the foundational franchise in the school's comprehensive campaign efforts and is a yearly referendum on how well the school is doing.

Annual Giving directly supports the mission statement by helping provide the finest teachers, an extraordinary curriculum and extracurricular activities that stimulate and challenge a diverse and talented student body. Gifts to Annual Giving assure this environment of challenge, academic excellence and support, thereby maintaining Harvard-Westlake's position as one of the finest schools in the country. Annual Giving is a $25 million component of the school's $175 million comprehensive campaign and is anticipated to exceed its goal by 25%.

The Annual Giving Solicitation Program seeks to increase total donations; increase individual giving within identified giving categories, including the number of donors in each category; and to increase the participation rates of our various constituencies, thereby decreasing the number of non-givers. The active members of these constituencies include: current parents (1450), alumni (8500), grandparents (1700), faculty/staff (300), parents of alumni and friends (500) for a total number of 12,000 people who are solicited. The total number of addressable and living constituents (non-students) in our database is 17,500. The objective of the 2006-2007 Harvard-Westlake School Annual Giving Campaign was to add further refinements to an already existing excellent program.

Over 70% of Annual Giving donations come from current parents. Hence, the majority of the Office's effort centered on these solicitations. The 2006-2007 Annual Giving Campaign Parent Chairs previously served as Vice-Chairs for three years. Their experience and respect among the parents were instrumental in providing leadership and recruiting parent volunteers. In their new role, they brought a fresh perspective to reviewing our program. The combination of parent chairs' continuity with the Office of Advancement staff experience led to a very effective Annual Giving program.

The first of these improvements was increasing the number of phonathon captains and callers who made the peer-to-peer solicitation system work efficiently and educating them more effectively. Nearly 300 parents, alumni and students volunteered, recognizing the significance of their time for the school's benefit. The Chair of the Board of Trustees sends a thank you letter to all parent volunteers prior to the start of the school year. A special session was held for phonathon captains and another for new callers to motivate them and to review their assignments prior to the phonathon. The sessions were opportunities to further educate our volunteers about the need for Annual Giving and to anticipate questions that might arise. A caller guide was formatted into a pamphlet that facilitated the education of the volunteers.

The second improvement was how Annual Giving was introduced to new parents with the capacity for making leadership gifts. A letter from the President was sent to these new parents inviting them to a dinner reception at the Regency Club. Because of better research, there were more people invited than ever before. These Regency Club dinners are more intimate opportunities for new parents to meet trustees and the President. Seating arrangements need to be made with trustees and advancement staff personnel so questions could be done on a more personal basis. The evening's brief program includes the President giving a short but highly effective speech about how the guests had self-identified themselves as leaders from their sending schools and how we also would welcome them as leaders at Harvard-Westlake. He alerts them that a letter will be coming shortly asking them for a gift that could range from $2,500 to $25,000, possibly more.

The third improvement was immediate communication from the Office to the phonathon callers when a gift would arrive. This allows callers to place a phone call to the donor, write a thank you note, or see the donor at a school event and thank the donor personally. This was accomplished by a more effective use of the school's more robust email system.

The fourth improvement were thank you note cards: pre-printed thematic note cards with photos of students (such as "Discovery" with students in a science lab, "Determination" with a runner starting off at a cross-country meet, "Honor" with a copy of the Honor Code, "Creativity" with students painting, "Tradition" with a photo of the school crest, "Sportsmanship" with a photo of sports banners, "Expression" with students playing the cellos, and "Vision" with a graduation photo). Volunteers could strike up a conversation with a prospective donor and find a topic for whom that thank you card was particularly appropriate. The same photos are portrayed on posters that were used at other advancement events, like phonathons and the volunteer appreciation event.

Improvements in our alumni participation were gained by mimicking the successful parents' volunteer organizational structure. Two alumni serve as Co-Chairs of Alumni Annual Giving, an increased number of alumni phonathon volunteers were recruited, and phonathon card assignments targeted past donors who had not yet contributed. An additional change involved having student volunteer participate in a separate "thank-a-thon" for those alumni who had already made a gift.

Improvements in our faculty participation were accomplished by a regular review of faculty non-donors by the Office of Advancement staff, selection of non-donors whom each of the office personnel would speak to individually, with the goal of educating the faculty and staff of the importance of their participation. One of the staff volunteered to translate the faculty/staff solicitation into Spanish for the members of the maintenance staff.

The Annual Giving program budget is $170,500. Direct program costs (phonathons, stationery) is $57,000; indirect program costs (thank you receptions, cultivation) is $113,500. These costs comprise 32% of the entire Office budget.

The results of the 2006-2007 Harvard-Westlake School Annual Giving effort met all three goals: exceeding $6,000,000 in gifts; increased individual giving; and increased participation rates. The final Annual Giving total of $6,000,000 was an increase from the previous year's total of $5,215,734, a 15% increase. This is the first time an independent day school had achieved unrestricted Annual Giving results in excess of $6 million. The goal of increasing individual giving levels was met in all giving categories and the number of donors increased in all categories. The final goal of increased participation rates was accomplished with parent participation reaching 89% with the number of non-givers decreasing; participation by alumni increasing to 17.2% (from 794 donors in 2002 to 1545 donors, a 95% increase in six years); and participation by faculty and staff increasing to a record 96% (up from 65% as recently as 2001).

Harvard-Westlake School mission statement

Harvard-Westlake is a school whose curriculum and programs create an educational environment designed for students who possess both the motivation and the ability to pursue a rigorous college preparatory course of study. The school strives to provide an education which enables and empowers its diverse students to develop their intellectual, spiritual, emotional and physical gifts; to understand and respect the similarities among themselves and others in their local and world communities; and to learn the habits of mind and self-discipline necessary to live with integrity and purpose as contributing members of society.