Donors launch fundraising challenge tied to $1 million DA Fund goal
Posted 11/12/2015 02:49PM

“Yes!” That’s typically the answer whenever a teacher or student asks to launch a new initiative, asks for new resources or asks to bring new programming into the classroom. And that “yes” is delivered without hesitation or strings attached. This year, Durham Academy hopes to have one million reasons to say “yes” through its most ambitious annual fund goal ever — $1 million dollars. 

“The DA Fund provides 4 percent of our operating budget. At most of our peer schools, their annual funds are providing at least 5 percent of their budgets, with goals of $1 million and higher,” said Leslie Holdsworth, director of development. “It’s our long-term goal to reach that 5 percent threshold, and this is the year for us to raise $1 million!” 

DA is taking aim at the million-dollar target after a record-breaking run. The DA Fund raised a staggering $975,000 in 2014-2015, and parent participation reached an all-time high of 79 percent. This year, a group of generous DA donors has joined together to offer a $50,000 challenge to inspire every family to participate in the DA Fund. A parent participation rate of 80 percent or more is the goal, and every gift will help DA reach it.

“We are very excited about this challenge to our families. It is vital that we have broad participation in the DA Fund, which is our top fundraising priority,” said Janis Tillman ’84, DA Development Committee chair. “We will need every gift if we are going to reach $1 million!”

Tillman says while a $1 million goal might sound intimidating, it’s certainly not impossible. To date, 199 DA donors have given $464,720 to the DA Fund, putting parent participation at 26 percent. Although the challenge gift is tied to parent participation, everyone at DA can play a part. DA faculty, staff, alumni and trustees support the DA Fund every year. Upper School Spanish teacher and Lower School parent Liliana Simon says it’s easy to underestimate the ripple effect of one person’s gift.

“The first time I learned about fundraising at DA and they were asking me for money, I was skeptical. It was my first year here, 12 years ago, and I thought, ‘No, the school has money,’ ” said Simon. “But I saw that DA is a community that helps, and I began to understand all of the reasons fundraising would help, and that completely changed my mind, just with one conversation. As a parent I see why the teachers of my children are so wonderful — because as a teacher I see we have so much support from the school. Each gift says ‘We believe in you, we know you can do this wonderful work and we are supporting you.’ I’ve been a giver ever since.”

The Durham Academy Fund closes the gap between tuition and the actual cost of a DA education. DA Fund dollars create a margin of excellence for every teacher, every student, every day. There are a million reasons to say “yes” to the DA Fund.

View the video below for some familiar faces with a few more.

An independent, coeducational day school, pre-kindergarten through grade 12.
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