2019 Giving Opportunities: Quick Summary
Standwatch Academy has had a fantastic year and has made significant progress toward helping high school students throughout West Virginia learn how to become effective entrepreneurs. One of our founding principles is that the best way to build a hopeful future for young people in West Virginia is to expose them to new things and give them the basic entrepreneurial skills they need to enact change in their communities back home. In the process, it’s possible that economies can be transformed and lives improved. Frankly, we are nailing it, and we need your continued support. Here are some highlights from this report.
- Since our first expedition in April, StandWatch Academy students have produced 40 business plans for nonprofits or social enterprises.
- We travelled over 5000 miles and visited nearly every state in the American West including Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Wyoming, South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, and California.
- The students have written over 100 articles and built over 40 webpages for their projects.
- StandWatch Academy awarded over $80,000 in scholarships in 2018. The value of the scholarships alone exceeded our TOTAL 2017 revenue by over $40,000.
- Our donor base expanded from seven corporate sponsors in 2017 to over 23 in 2018.
- New classes are being developed that will help students raise capital for their projects.
- Shockwave Talks, a new presentation literacy program will launch in January 2019.
- We are transitioning our business model to maximize the impact of donations.
- Our new giving strategies will help supporters measure the impact of their donations more effectively.
- More information such as trip reports are available on our website at standwatch.org.
StandWatch Academy has had a fantastic year. Our program to help high school students develop social enterprises and nonprofits that make their communities better places to live is going like gangbusters. Since April, our students have written over 40 business plans that provide solutions to a wide range of problems. They have travelled over 5000 miles, visited nearly every state in the American West looking for inspiration, and explored over 10 national parks and national monuments. One of our founding principles is that the best way to build a hopeful future for young people in West Virginia is to expose them to new things and give them the basic entrepreneurial skills they need to enact change in their communities back home. In the process, it’s possible that economies can be transformed and lives improved. Based on what I’ve seen to date, we’re nailing it.
Absolutely none of this could have happened without the support of our fantastic sponsors. The credit for any impact that our students might have in the future is totally attributable to them.
I am still compiling data for our annual report and will publish it by the end of the year. Before that, however, I want to provide a list of programs and initiatives we are developing for 2019. As many of our donors know, most of our fundraising in 2018 was centered around short-notice appeals to help individual students with their tuition for the various class expeditions we launched. That approach will change in 2019 so that our supporters can have more predictability and measure their support more effectively.
In 2019, we will be strengthening the academic programs while making the educational travel programs more purposeful and rewarding. At the students’ suggestions, the length of the trips will be reduced and we will include business meetings with CEOs and companies on every expedition. One or two-day excursions to national parks will remain a central component to every expedition, but overall, most of our time will be dedicated more to business education. For a more detailed explanation of our upgrades to the curriculum and expeditions, see this article on LinkedIn.
We Are Changing the Way We Use Donations
The last, and probably most important change we’ll be making involves how we use our donations.
Like every nonprofit organization, StandWatch Academy has overhead expenses. Over the years, I have kept that overhead between 10% to 20% of our total budget. In 2018, this provided enough money to pay all of the expenses for 100% of the students on the spring expedition, half or all of the costs for 15 of the 21 people on the summer expedition, and all of the expense for 40% of the students on the fall expedition. These were massively expense trips and it basically meant that we zeroed-out our resources every quarter. Still, it worked, but it needs to get better.
In 2019, we’ll be dedicating a certain number of spaces in each class to students who can pay their tuition out of pocket without assistance. Our hope is that we can use the revenue from these students to cover all of our overhead so that 100% of the donations that come in can go directly to aid students in need. It’s a goal that I think we can achieve.
With that explanation, these are the programs and initiatives we are asking donors and sponsors to support in 2019.
Fundraising Programs and Goals
- Shockwave V4(I) Institutional Memberships – StandWatch Academy has raised over $80,000 in 2018 for individual scholarships. Our goal in 2019 is to connect donors with a specific school so as many as 40 students from that school can attend our course. To accomplish this goal, our traditional academic tuition will be reduced by 94%. See the V4(I) program page to find out more. 2019 Fundraising Goal: 10 schools sponsored at $9550 each.
- Shockwave Talks Sponsorships – We are launching a new speaking series in January designed to teach kids presentation literacy through the experience of developing their own scripts and slide decks similar to a TED Talk. 2019 Fundraising Goal: $25,000
- SWA Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) – This program has been the bread and butter of our academy and consumed 85% of all donations in 2018. The TAP funds pay all the expenses for a single student. In order to keep providing opportunities for all students, regardless of socio-economic status, we need our donor’s continued support. 2019 Fundraising Goal: $90,000
- SWA Educational Travel Assistance (ETA) – In several instances this year, students were able to raise enough money to cover their educational expenses but fell short with their travel costs. ETA funds will be used to assist students in this situation. Companies and individuals can maximize their donation’s impact by providing ETA donations that can be spread across multiple students in need. 2019 Fundraising Goal: $30,000
- Technology Support for Students (TSS) – Every student is required to use a computer or smartphone to access the curriculum. For some students, this is a challenge. While all of them thus far have access to phones, we’ve had many who do not have a computer or Chromebook at their disposal. One important goal in 2019 is to raise enough money to purchase 10 to 15 laptops that we can lend to students each class. 2019 Fundraising Goal: $18,000
When Do We Need Help?
Like every business, we will have peak periods of activity punctuated by periods when operating costs are lower. Even though we will be reducing the length of the expeditions, we will be increasing the frequency to accommodate more executive meetings and corporate tours. Added to this will be the expenses and ETA scholarships related to our Shockwave Talks. With that in mind, the following chart is an estimated “cash burn” requirement for each month during the first six months of 2019.
*For a greater explanation of the use of ETA and TSS funds for expeditions, see our expeditions page at www.standwatch.org/expeditions.
2019 Suggested Giving Levels
With these numbers in mind, we are hoping that previous and new donors will consider giving at these levels.
- Platinum Patron: $10,000+
- Gold Patron: $5,000 to $9,999
- Silver Patron: $2000 to $4,999
- Bronze Patron: $1000 to $2,000
- Academy Sponsor: $25 to $999
*Donations can be made online, via check, or ACH.
My hope is that all of our sponsors will help our efforts in 2019. With their support, we can continue planting the seed of entrepreneurship throughout our communities. For more information or questions, please feel free to contact me at 304-550-1070.