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Santa Monica-Malibu Ed Foundation Takes on New Fundraisers for Centralized Fundraising Program

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark
By Jason Islas
Staff Writer

February 26, 2013 -- With the Santa Monica-Malibu Education Foundation now responsible for fundraising $4 million annually for extracurricular programs and professional development, the nonprofit has taken on two new fundraisers.

The new hires, who will be responsible for finding new revenue sources for Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District's (SMMUSD) new centralized fundraising plan, which prohibits Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs) from making direct donations to schools for personnel or programs. ("Santa Monica - Malibu School Board Approves Controversial Gift Policy," December 2011)

“This is our new charge and we're focused” on raising the $4 million, said Rachel Faulkner, program & events director for the Ed Foundation.

As a result, the nonprofit will increase its staff from three people to five, creating two new positions and bringing on board Director of Major Gifts Ed Lin and Director of Annual Giving and Leadership Gifts Jessica Ureña.

Lin, once a corporate attorney, has spent the last five years as a fundraiser, Ed Foundation officials said. Most recently he worked as director of development at the Harmony Project, “a nonprofit organization benefiting low-income, at-risk youth through music enrichment,” officials said.

Ureña, who will start at the Ed Foundation April 1, has worked as director of individual giving and operations at Loyola Marymount University since 2008. The University of Southern California graduate has also worked as a fundraiser with the Nimoy Foundation, Autism Speaks, The Sundance Institute, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

“They will be working with individuals in the community, community organizations and corporations,” Faulkner said, which are traditional sources of funding for the Ed Foundation.

But the new fundraisers will also begin to look at “planned and estate giving” as a source of revenue for the nonprofit.

In 2012, the estate of Peggy Bergmann donated $4.8 million to the Ed Foundation, the largest gift in the organization's 30-year history.

Of the $4.8 million, Faulkner said, half will be set aside for an arts endowment for socioeconomically disadvantaged children. The other $2.4 million will go to the centralized fund for personnel and extracurricular activities.

But, Faulkner said, it will be spread out over the years. Just how much of the $2.4 million will go to the fund each year has yet to be decided, she said.

When the centralized fundraising policy was unanimously approved by the School Board in 2011, critics argued that if parents couldn't donate directly to the PTAs at their children's schools to fund programs and pay for teachers' aides, that donations to PTAs would drop off. ("Equity Fund Slump Related to District-Wide Fundraising Effort, Say Malibu Parents," November 2012)

But even that is the case, Faulkner said that donations to the Ed Foundation certainly haven't . Since the Ed Foundation started its annual fund drive in December, it has already raised $500,000, which she called an “unprecedented amount of money in terms of our annual fund.”

“We've been really happy with the participation we've seen,” she said. “We know it will improve over time.”

She said that as centralized fundraising kicks in -- in 2014 -- the Ed Foundation will build relationships with schools and with parents.

“Parents are starting to understand that some of the money they are used to donating to their PTAs won't go to fund” programs, she said.

Currently, the nonprofit funds about 20 different programs in arts and academics throughout the district, Faulkner said, including music lessons at Olympic High School, after school drama programs for the middle schools and visiting dance specialists for the secondary schools.

As the plans for the new centralized fundraising coalesce, those programs will be evaluated to determine whether they will continue to get funding, she said.

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