An article appeared on March 31 in the Boston Globe entitled “For Small, Private Colleges, Fewer Students Means More Worries.” The author of the article in the Boston Globe was Laura Krantz. She highlights the enrollment and financial troubles that face many small colleges today: simple demographics, fewer students at the high school level; rising tuitions and increasing financial-aid pressure; low endowments; and a trend for families to look at less expensive public education.
While Ms. Krantz’s article deals with the college struggles, the same concerns exist for most independent schools, and have for years.
Those of you with modest, small, or no endowments, cannot compete with institutions with healthy endowments raised over many years from wealthy, loyal donors. The heads of these fortunate few schools with multi-million dollar endowments, may stay up at night, but their problems are not caused by fretting over simple financial survival.
My message to you is that you make raising your endowment your highest priority. The answer to long-term survival is not building squash courts or a glitzy new fine arts facility. Sophisticated donors realize this need and you must convince more donors that major gifts to endowment are more transformational to your institution than more bricks and mortar. If seeing their name on a building is one of their motivations, convince them to make their gift to endowment and find a building or space on campus to put their name.
A strong endowment is the best insurance policy you can have to institutional security.