Archdiocese of Chicago

 Resource Documents Minimize

We have produced a small library here, comprised of brief articles or outlines on specific topics:  projects or challenges that you might face as you begin an advancement program in your school or parish community.  These are written with the fledgling program in mind, and generally for the program in an elementary school.  The documents are based on our own experience and on advancement "best practices" as determined by professionals who have strengthened and fine-tuned advancement programs over many years. 

The Brand New Advancement Office

Included here are some sample job descriptions.  In our experience, each community expects something particular from their new hire -- almost all of them expect too much.  We encourage schools who are considering this move to do several things:  consult OCS about the plan; invite OCS to be part of the interview process; suggest that the new hire contact the Advancement Services program immediately.

Development and Marketing Job Description  This position is full time and combines development and marketing -- the most common situation in our elementary schools.

Hiring and Paying an Advancement Director gives you some idea what you are in for when you decide to make the big move.

Tools for an Advancement Office  is a list of some of the things you should be prepared to have to outfit the new home for your new staff member.

Ten Questions a New Advancement Officer Should Ask  is actually far more than ten questions!  It will help the new officer, the new officer's colleagues or someone hoping to begin an advancement program, the scope of information that is required.  If you want the program (and the person you ask to lead it)  to be successful, don't ignore these questions.

Proving 501c3 Status. There are times when you will have to prove that you are a tax exempt organization; not for sales tax exempt purchases -- every parish and school are on top of this one and can provide you with the document that you need -- but for the purpose of proposals, memberships, matching gifts, etc.  When this is the case, you need three documents, all of which we are providing here for you.  You need the IRS Group Ruling Letter; the title page of the Kenedy Directory (The Official Catholic Directory); and the page from the Kenedy Directory that lists your parish or school.

A Good Start for an Advancement Program

How School Leadership Can Jump Start an Advancement Program  This article spells out the ways that your administrative team and school board can lay the foundation for a good advancement program and cut months off the start-up time for new staff.  No new staff in sight?  These are still the steps you have to take if you want a strong advancement program.

Why You Need a Donor Management System  You know that you cannot track gifts and those kind folks who gave them using index cards anymore.  This piece will help you convince your colleagues (or whomever it is we need to convince) that the acquisition of a system in necessary.

Advancement Overview

These documents are outlines, shaping the conversation about advancement in your community.  The content is directed as the name indicates:  to the faculty and staff, to the board, for the principal.

Advancing the Institution (Board Involvement Only) is a brief look via outline at the work of advancement -- when there is no advancement staff and the Board is being asked to (is expected to) take on the work of advancement.

The Principal -- Development Director Partnership is the key to a successful program.  Having strong leaders in each position is essential but helping them understand the partnership is equally important.  This outline is designed for a conversation with the principal with the assumption that the principal has never worked with development staff and therefore might not have a clear picture of what to expect and how to manage this new colleague.

Who's on Your Advancement Team? is an outline for a conversation with faculty and staff, designed to help them understand the valuable role that they play in helping to advance the institution.  We ask them to look at what they do, and the impact it has on your school, though an advancement "lens."

Advancement Best Practices

The Advancement and Business Office Interface is an Excel document designed to help both the advancement officer and the business manager -- and their colleagues -- understand the way the two offices work together for the most effective and transparent results for the institution.  The advancement office is generally a new enterprise in our communities; you should find this roadmap helpful as you travel these important roads.

Advancement Best Practices is a document that describes the work of advancement for your community.  This work includes those things that are the direct responsibility of the advancement office and those things that may be the direct work of others (volunteers or other school staff) but come under the purview of advancement.  Events or programs that raise money for your community are part of your advancement program.

Alumni Program

All Alumni All the Time is a pdf of a PowerPoint deck.  It is designed for those initial conversations about what an alumni program is or should be -- and offers a few pointers about what it is not!  While the ideas are not spelled out in full, the document includes suggestions about elements of your alumni program that do not include a great deal of attention from the development office.

Alumni Engagement on the Website is a full document (not an outline) about the ways that you can invite your alumni to be part of your school even before you have:  found all of their contact information, published a newsletter, held an event.  It reinforces the reasons for you to strengthen your online presence.

Mistakes That Will Do Serious Harm to Your Alumni Program is a list of the very common pitfalls that undermine your best efforts -- and help you with the reasons to give to those in your community who, with all good intentions, are directing you to trip over these issues.

How to Stay In Touch is copy from a brochure with ideas for alumni about their ongoing relationship with their alma mater.  Pass these out at graduation, mail them to young alumni with an appeal, use them as part of a solicitation for alumni leadership.

Reunion Invitation sample is a simple piece that invites young alumni to a gathering that will cost them nothing.  (Do this occasionally; treat alumni to a party that's all on you.)


More often than anything else, we are asked for samples of letters for solicitations.  Here are some samples from a long term advancement professional. All the names have been changed to protect everyone; while we do have St. Mary Schools in the Archdiocese these letters were not used at any of them.

Parent to Parent Annual Appeal Solicitation

General Annual Appeal Solicitation

Annual appeal, second letter

Grandparent Annual Appeal Solicitation

Appeal Acknowledgement Letter


Advancement Website Audit invites you to look at your website through an advancement lens.  It is a comprehensive examination of the look, feel and effectiveness of your most powerful communication tool.

How To Take Great Pictures for Your School Website offers some tips about the ethics of posting pictures, the process of taking the pictures, and project storing them so they don't overwhelm you and your capacity to organize!

How Do We Say Thank You suggests ways to care for your donors beyond the reflexive "tax letter" that too often is the end of the thanking process.

Giving thanks: How an exceptional thank you is critical for retaining your donors is an excellent post by columnist Susan Fish on the website  It underscores the vital reasons to care for your donors and provides a list of tips that make an outstanding thank you letter.

Charitable Contributions (IRS 1771)  This document from the IRS states clearly and simply what is required of you in terms of acknowledging charitable gifts to your school.  What you send the donor is this:  name of your organization, amount of cash contribution, statement that no goods or services were received in exchange for this gift.  That's it -- no tax exempt numbers, no EIN numbers, no FEIN numbers.  Here is the document in case you don't believe us or if you have gifts that are more complicated than cash gifts.

State of the School is about creating a specific opportunity to invite your stakeholders to become more informed and more involved with your school.  It is a great chance to communicate your goals -- and to wave your flag. 

The Case for a Printed Newsletter is just that:  an article on the important place that print communication should have in your communication plan.  The article acknowledges the growth (and ease and low cost) of electronic communication and the cost of print communication and explains how to use the more costly real estate of print to good effect.


The Evolution of the Annual Fund is a pdf of the presentation that Mary J. Foley of Foley Consulting made for the Archdiocesan Development Council.  This is a distilation of Mary's excellent Annual Fund Workshop, a program from which many of our schools have benefitted greatly over the years. 

One Year, One Fund is an article about the ways that you can incorporate annual appeal best practices into a manageable project for a one person shop with many responsibilities.  Think about this document as "annual fund" for beginners.

There's a Hole in Your Bucket  is about the specific ways that mandatory fundraising programs and "transactional" programs like candy bar sales undermine the work that you are doing to build a strong philanthropic platform in your school.

Before You Send Your First Annual Appeal is advice about how to lay the groundwork for a successful appeal -- communicate! -- so that your constituents are expecting the appeal when it arrives.  They know why you will be doing it, what it will be for, and how this program will help change your community.

Special Initiatives offers some ideas about the ways to begin to incorporate change in the fundraising world at your school.  It suggests approaches to the annual appeal, announcing a new funding program, or how to take advantage of a great opportunity.


Special Events

Anniversary Celebrations is a comprehensive (or nearly comprehensive) look at ways that your community can mark the special milestones -- that will not come your way again!  Don't  miss the chance for your school to take center stage in your community.  And don't wait until six months before the milestone to begin to think about it.

The Work We Do

Because of You The work we do is difficult, wonderful work and we need to be reminded occasionally of why we do it.  Read Penelope Burk's beautiful essay for that reminder.  Penelope is one of the giants in the fundraising world, author of Donor Centered Fundraiser and of Burk's Blog and a master teacher.  Read her essay, her books, her blog and don't miss the opportunity to hear her speak.

Outside Funding Sources

Whether you have a new advancement program or a seasoned one, there will be people who will tell you that you should be receiving grants.  Please do some research before you begin on the percentage of charitable giving that comes from corporate or foundation giving (it's not a big number) and then check out the Catholic Funding Guide -- borrow it, don't buy it -- to see who gives money to Catholic organizations in Illinois.

Writing grant proposals is time consuming and most often, those to whom you are writing are looking for a reason to say "no" because they are overwhelmed with requests.  You should also know that your chances are being funded decrease if your school is;  outside of the city of Chicago; less than 50% minority; fewer than 50% of your students qualify for free or reduced lunch.   If you have found a potential donor and are going to proceed, look at these documents which are samples of proposals.

Grant Proposal Sample

Letter for Family Foundation



 Archdiocesan Development Council Minimize

The Archdiocesan Development Council (ADC) is a member organization offering the advancement staff of our schools, or volunteers who help with advancement projects, professional development and networking opportunities. The ADC produces four workshops annually on topics like special events, social media, constituent management software, alumni programs, etc. The workshops are held in September, November, January and March at the Domincan Priory in River Forest.  Annual membership for a school is $75; each school can send as many representatives to workshops as they like.

For more information about ADC, please visit the organization's website at or email Lynn Fredrick at