How Private Schools Support the Student Experience through Fundraising


It’s no secret that attending an independent school usually comes with paying tuition. Depending on the school, that tuition fee can cost families anywhere from a few thousand dollars to a whopping six-figures, with the majority of schools hovering somewhere in between. One might think that with these streams of money coming in, private schools would be set for the school year (and beyond!), but when we really did some digging at our own Mountain Academy, we found that it simply wasn’t true. Private school advancement teams are continually working to ensure that the student experience each family is promised at the beginning of the school year is delivered. Here at Mountain Academy, that not only means raising money beyond what we collect in tuition, but true to our core beliefs, it means building a community that is proud to support their school. 

But, why above and beyond?

Put simply, independent schools need to fundraise because the cost of their educational experience is beyond what tuition covers. Normally, tuition income covers about 85% of the cost of offering a well-rounded education (source). The rest is typically covered by annual funds, endowments or donor-restricted gifts.

On a year-to-year basis, however, it’s the Annual Fund that is one of the most important resources independent schools have to fund teachers, students and authentic learning experiences. 

So, what is an annual fund and where does the money go?

An annual fund is precisely what is sounds like: a sum of money that is donated each year by school constituents (parents, faculty, alumni and friends) and its dollars are used to amplify the independent school experience. 

To understand a bit more about where annual funds actually go, we spoke to Mountain Academy’s Director of Development, Hannah Mook. She broke our Annual Fund down for us into three parts:  

Student Experience

This area includes the activities and facilities that deepen students’ learning experience, such as field trips to museums and community businesses, advanced technology labs, expert speakers and science equipment.

Committed Teachers

This area includes the activities and facilities that deepen teachers’ professional experience, such as professional development workshops and courses, visits to other model schools, expert speakers and national conferences. 

Tuition Assistance

Mountain Academy invests over $1M a year into students who would otherwise be unable to attend Mountain Academy. Dollars contributed to our annual fund allow us to bring access and inclusion to more diverse students. 

Building Community that Cares

Here at Mountain Academy, fundraising would be null if our efforts didn’t include a celebration and building of our community. After all, what is a school without the very people who work, learn and invest in it? This is why throughout all of of our fundraising campaigns, our community is involved in more ways than their dollars. 

Some of the activities we do to make sure our families feel supported include: 


For the last three years we’ve kicked off our annual fund campaign with a chili cook-off and have had over 100 members of our school community participate. It’s a fun way to bring everyone together and tasty, too!

Displays of Gratitude

Whether it’s special notes from students, teachers or parent volunteers, or coffee and treats at morning drop-off, we strive to show our donors how much we appreciate their support.


Whether it’s a student s’more bar, a pickup game of parent/student/teacher kickball or live music, a little fun goes a long way when it comes to building a strong school community. 

And it shows. Over the past five years, Mountain Academy has received contributions from every family at our school! We’d love for you to join our community and support our school this year, too.  

Our Mountain Academy Community Campaign is currently active and ends November 22.

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