Secure needed funding by expanding and deepening relationships with supporters, churches, foundations, alumni, and parents, and by exploring additional revenue sources to successfully launch students debt-free to fulfill their ministry calling.
The speed of realizing our vision is closely correlated with funds raised and wise stewarding of those funds. Highlands College, currently an integrated auxiliary of Church of the Highlands, is financially strong with $24M (as of Fall 2020) in unrestricted funds and more than 80% of our operating budget coming from tuition and fees. We will continue to adhere to conservative financial practices, incurring debt only for capital improvements. Our overriding aim is for students to graduate debt-free. Achieving this aim will require substantial additional funds. Initially, we will offer enhanced and expanded scholarships to students with an ultimate goal of free tuition for all students, supplemented by additional aid to students based on need.
is being developed for the Office of Advancement, which raises funds for the College. A key aim is to create systems that promote excellence (e.g., consistency, professionalism, efficiency) in fundraising and stewardship. This includes performance tracking and reporting, using metrics and targets. Over time, we will hire more experienced development officers. We will create partnerships with organizations that facilitate fundraising, but also provide benefits in other areas, such as recruiting. We will also explore establishing a foundation. Two key thrusts of Advancement, Cultivation and Stewardship, are discussed below.
are being developed and applied. This begins with more sophisticated segmentation of our donor
base, resulting in customized appeals to our supporters. Our initial focus is on engaging Church of the Highlands members to expand and deepen their support to fully realize the giving potential of Church membership. Our approach is primarily informational, centered on conveying our vision and providing giving instructions. These efforts will include engagement with Evening Program students. Over time, we will extend our efforts to the Church’s ARC and Grow networks; initial appeals will promote stronger engagement with us—for example, assistance with filling our recruiting pipeline and with hiring our graduates—with the hope that churches will understand the benefits of financial support of our College. We will also reach beyond the Church family and network—with a more direct approach—to other churches, para-ministry organizations, secular givers and organizations, and most especially, family-led foundations and Donor Advised Funds.
We will also continue to apply more assertive and varied strategies in our fundraising. Where appropriate, we will make direct asks from potential supporters. We will also place increased emphasis on vehicles and channels for giving, including: pledge gifts, giving days, gift matching, planned gifts, big fundable (and nameable) ideas, crowdfunding, leveraging of social media, and receipt/processing of complex asset gifts. To enable this more assertive approach, Church of the Highlands’ leadership and the Board of Directors will exert more influence, particularly in connecting capable donors with the Office of Advancement.
A key fundraising stratagem is creating supporter organizations, including alumni and parent support organizations, with the intent of creating a culture of giving among our loyal constituents.
Lastly, we are working to emphasize the right messages in our communications including: eternal legacy, student impact, refusal of government money, Church endorsement, our Academy model (especially its free tuition and holistic, hands-on training), and opportunities (not needs). Strategies that provide exposure to our students (for example, in Chapel) or their stories are especially effective.
Our goal is to create a great experience for our supporters. To that end, we are committed to consistency and predictability in our donor interactions, including efficient processing of donations and true expression of gratitude. Attention to detail and personal touches are essential. To create a strong giving culture, we are implementing standard elements of donor stewardship, such as donor levels/societies. For our most generous donors, we will provide financial and impact statements. We also seek to involve interested donors in assisting our College in other ways that deepen their commitment to us and help meet other needs of the College (e.g., guest speakers, mentors, expertise).
A number of other sources of revenue are important to Highlands College. Increasingly, we will look to our expanded educational platforms to provide funding for the College. Goal 4 lays out our vision for these platforms and the role they will play in financing the College. In addition to donations and in-kind contributions, Church of the Highlands has generously provided an annual gift from its Legacy Offering. We intend to better forecast this Legacy funding. Lastly, we are working to better understand and forecast revenue from tuition and fees, which for the foreseeable future will be the primary revenue source for our operating budget. Understanding the relationship among enrollment, pricing, and total revenues from tuition and fees is essential to better forecasting and ensure appropriate College funding.
play a critical role in the financing of the College. We always strive to find the most cost-effective means to achieve quality results. Goal 5: Enhance the Implementation-Driven Operating Model and our Operational Excellence Theme describes specific operational excellence principles and priorities we have adopted. In the area of finance and accounting, we are taking a number of actions. We are increasingly adopting a mindset of investable monies as distinct from money for operations. We are developing better forecasting
tools and implementing iterative planning that drives budgeting (not vice versa). We also continue to develop accountability-driven accounting and financial systems and are increasingly segregating F&A responsibilities. We are developing better policies about spending unrestricted funds and the handling of debt, including rules for amortization and borrowing. Lastly, we are committed to a stronger Board role in financial oversight.