The Acorn Fund FAQ's
St. Benedict’s Annual Acorn Fund Campaign is the school’s most important giving priority. Gifts to The Acorn Fund directly support St. Benedict’s unique educational model to provide a diverse and faith-based education with high standards of excellence. Gifts support all aspects of our school budget including but not limited to teacher professional development, technology, integrated Spanish curriculum, athletics, the arts and financial aid support. While tuition and fees cover most of the costs of educating students at St. Benedict’s, The Acorn Fund supports almost 3% of the school’s annual budget.
How will The Acorn Fund help us accomplish our strategic goals?
Your gifts to The Acorn Fund are helping to plant the seeds for future capital projects. Acorn Fund gifts support our school’s operational budget, and it is critical that we show strong support for The Acorn Fund from those closest to the school. When it is the right time to launch a capital campaign, outside constituents will ask some basic questions about the school’s track record of success. A successful annual fund will be one of those first questions asked by partners who want to ensure that our parents support the mission of the school.
What does the Acorn Fund pay for?
The Acorn Fund helps pay for everything that makes St. Benedict’s unique. As in all established independent schools, there is a gap between what is funded by tuition and fees and what it actually costs to educate our students. The amount of this gap varies by school, and for St. Benedict’s, we rely on The Acorn Fund to support approximately 3% of our school’s budget. These unrestricted annual fund gifts provide for professional development, technology, our integrated Spanish program, our enrichment programs and other creative approaches to learning. Inspired by a seed grant this year, 10% of proceeds raised through the Acorn Fund will go to support the expansion of Diversity and Inclusion educational opportunities for teachers, staff, students, and families.
We offer opportunities for parents, grandparents and the community to support specific projects at St. Benedict’s such as financial aid, capital upgrades and special programs. If a family is interested in making a restricted gift, they should contact the development staff to discuss. However, we want everyone to realize that our first and most important priority is fully supporting The Annual Acorn Fund.
Why can’t you just raise tuition to cover the difference?
St. Benedict’s has a long-standing tradition of aiming to be ‘affordable’ for a working family in Smyrna and the greater Atlanta area. While the term ‘affordable’ may be relative, we believe that any large increases in tuition may inhibit the retention and admission of the student body who represents the diverse learning environment that helps our students thrive. Through tax-deductible donations to The Acorn Fund, we work to keep tuition more affordable.
What did the school raise in the 2019-20 school year?
Last year, the St. Benedict’s community was very generous. Gifts to The Acorn Fund ranged from $25 to $15,000. Parent participation was our highest ever at 86%. Our students showed their support for their school, with 33% making gifts. We raised approximately $214,000 from parents, grandparents, board members, students and staff. Faculty/Staff and Board participation was 100%.
What is our 2020-21 Goal?
Our 2020-21 Annual Acorn Fund has a participation goal and a financial goal. We seek 100% parent, board and faculty participation to raise $175,000 in financial support. As in all established independent schools, parent participation is critical and demonstrates the loyalty, commitment, and generous spirit of our school community. In order to meet last year’s participation, we must meet a minimum of 86% participation from the parent community, and we need to maintain our tradition of 100% participation from Faculty/Staff and board members.
How do I decide what amount to give?
There is not a ‘one size fits all’ answer to this question. We encourage everyone to give to the best of their ability. With so much uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, we did not raise our financial goal. However, because of our investments in technology and safety protocols our expenses are $1100 per student over our operating budget. We hope our parents, board members and community at large will consider an increased gift over last year to help us close the gap.
How will the school recognize gifts?
We have put in place the following efforts to encourage full participation and to recognize gifts from our community.
Dress down stickers: Students whose family participates will receive a highly-coveted dress down sticker to use on a day of their choosing.
Extra Recess: The first in each grade level to reach 80% giving receive extra recess time
Popsicle Party: Popsicle party when each grade hits 80%
Carpool Signage: Carpool signs will publicly announce the participation numbers for each grade at least every other week.
Window Decals: Donors will receive thank you notes with enclosed window decals that have been created so that donors can display them in a way that showcases consecutive giving year after year.
Email communication: Bi-Weekly emails will announce and recognize those grades who are on track or exceeding participation goals. However families who give will be opted out of communications asking for gifts.
Sustained Giving: For families who make a sustained, recurring monthly gifts that carry into each year, we will not ask them to give again and will recognize them each year as our ‘first’ givers.
What is the active fundraising period for the Acorn Fund?
Acorn Fund gifts are tax deductible as allowed by law. The 2020-21 Acorn Fund active solicitation period will begin on August 31 and will continue through January 18. Gifts are due by June 30, 2021, and gifts received by December 31, 2020 are eligible for a 2020 tax deduction.
Can I serve on the committee?
Absolutely! Contact Stephanie Alvarez (email@example.com) if you are interested in volunteering
How can I make a gift?
Made payable to St. Benedict’s Episcopal School
Attn: The Acorn Fund
St. Benedict’s Episcopal School
2160 Cooper Lake Road
Smyrna, Georgia 30080
Contact Stephanie Alvarez at or (678) 279-4300
All gifts or pledges must be paid by June 30, 2021
What do I do if my company matches charitable contributions?
Many employers will match any charitable contributions made by their employees. If your company has such a program, request a matching gift form. Your gift to St. Benedict’s may be doubled or possibly tripled! Some companies even match gifts made by retirees and/or spouses. If your company is not already on our list to match charitable contribution, please send all paperwork to the development office, c/o Stephanie Alvarez.