In care and feeding of donors, education fundraisers leave no FAQ unanswered

The D.C. Public Education Fund has raised tens of millions of dollars from private donors big and small to help fund the IMPACT evaluation system, secondary school reform, improved data management and an array of other initiatives. One of its tools is the “EduTour,” which takes prospective contributors on half-day bus trips to learn first-hand about opportunities to donate their money.

Getting wealthy people to part with their money can be a sensitive business. At a recent kickoff breakfast for the new season of EduTours, the fund (which runs the trips in collaboration Banyan Tree Foundation, CityBridge Foundation and the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers) included a sheet of frequently asked questions that aims to cover every possible contingency. Some excerpts:

Why are EduTours so long?

Because there is a LOT to learn! We respect your time and appreciate that you are willing to spend such a large part of your day with us.”

Do you pick me up at my house?

Sorry, no. But we do pick you up from a convenient downtown D.C. location, near parking garages, the Farragut North metro stop and coffee shops.

Will the bus leave without me if I’m late?

We hate to do it, but yes. If you are running a few minutes late and call to let us know, we may be able to wait for you--but only for a few minutes. It is not fair to keep your colleagues waiting.

Can I leave early for my noon Pilates class?

No, sorry. But if you have a meeting you absolutely cannot miss and would still like to join the EduTour, let us know in advance and we will try to accommodate last-minute conflicts.

Will you feed me on EduTours?

Of course! We have delicious boxed lunches with meat and vegetarian options that come with our famous EduTours cookies.

I haven’t been in school for a while--how should I act so I don’t get sent to the principal’s office?

We ask that you refrain from using cell phones and checking emails during the tours. We realize it’s a long time to be unavailable, but we ask that you wait until you are back on the bus. The schools we visit and the nonprofits we meet on the tours are told that EduTours are non-solicitation events, and we ask that tour participants respect this rule, as well. Please do not solicit other tour participants on behalf of your grantees.

Bill Turque, who covers Montgomery County government and politics, has spent more than thirty years as a reporter and editor for The Washington Post, Newsweek, the Dallas Times Herald and The Kansas City Star.

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