The COVID-19 pandemic has had numerous trickle-down effects on the education sector — several of which we’re only beginning to understand. In addition to immediate impacts, like the demand to quickly roll out virtual learning solutions, private institutions are also uncovering longtail challenges. Like, for example, drastic dips in enrollment projected to last another two or three years.
But private school leaders are highly resourceful, adaptive professionals. And despite current challenges, you know there are steps you can take today to mitigate long-term financial impacts on your institution.
One of the best solutions is to begin identifying alternate revenue sources that will not only make up for lagging enrollment but can also offer opportunities for prospective families to get involved at your school.
To help get your wheels turning, here are several private school revenue sources and auxiliary programs worth considering.
11 Alternate Private School Revenue Sources to Consider
1. Offer Online Courses to Students Outside the School
Your school’s greatest value lies in its exemplary education — including your highly qualified teachers and well-crafted curriculum. To help bring in extra revenue dollars, consider making classes available to students outside your school via a course audit program. You can offer classes to families interested in attending your school in the future as well as those merely seeking extra enrichment opportunities for their children.
2. Offer Meal Plans Via Delivery or Curbside Pickup
One common challenge parents have faced during the pandemic is making sure their children are consistently eating nutritious foods throughout the [virtual] school day — and keeping enough snacks on hand. Busy and working parents often rely on schools to ensure their children are well-fed at lunchtime, and losing this advantage has been difficult for many families.
School kitchens do an excellent job preparing healthy, kid-friendly meals, which makes them an excellent potential revenue source. Consider packaging and selling school meals to be delivered to students’ homes, or available via curbside pick-up, thereby alleviating a common headache for overwhelmed families.
3. Charge a Small Distance Learning Fee to Offset New Technology Costs
When schools across the U.S. purchased software like Zoom, Adobe Connect, and other virtual learning tools in March, few expected to still be relying on this tech seven months later. Now that virtual learning is here for the foreseeable future, it may be time to consider offsetting subscriptions with a small “distance learning fee.” This is a really easy auxiliary revenue source to add to your list.
4. Offer Extended Access to Health/Wellness Facilities
Does your school boast state-of-the-art athletic facilities and equipment? Consider providing after-hours access to these spaces for students’ families, or even the outside community, for a membership fee. In addition to giving people the chance to exercise in an uncrowded, well-appointed space, you can provide prospective students’ families a glimpse into your athletic program.
Additionally, consider allowing families to make appointments with your school nurse or other on-staff healthcare professionals.
5. Provide Specialized After-School Courses
From crafts to music lessons, foreign languages, fitness, and cooking, lots of families are using the extra time at home to pick up a new skill or hone existing proficiencies.
Consider hiring instructors to teach after-school courses on these subjects, and make them available to students and parents alike. For extra convenience, offer to have course materials shipped to families’ homes. You can also offer material that covers life skills for high-school-aged students, like personal finance and career planning.
6. Create New Clubs with Future Life Benefits
While virtual learning and social distancing are necessary for curbing the spread of the virus, the lack of socialization has been just as challenging for kids as it is for adults. If you haven’t already, consider taking extra-curricular clubs online (with a small membership fee), so students have a place to bond over shared interests and nurture their skills.
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7. Offer a Homeschool Partnership
If you’re not already extending a partnership to homeschool families, you may be missing a huge opportunity. This can quickly become one of your best alternate revenue sources — especially today when many parents have opted to pursue homeschool in districts where distance learning isn’t provided.
In this set-up, families can choose to homeschool part-time and supplement with curriculum from a partner school. As schools re-open, students can split up their day between home and on-campus learning.
8. Develop College Readiness Programming
While your standard curriculum likely already includes plenty of college readiness material, extra preparation can go a long way toward helping students earn acceptance to their top pick. Consider compiling a program that helps students with test prep, essay writing, and navigating the application process. You can also prepare a seminar for parents that includes topics like financial aid, helping college-aged children stay on track, and living life as an “empty nester.”
9. Rent Facilities for Socially Distanced Outdoor Gatherings
Many campuses are home to sprawling, well-manicured lawns that make an ideal location for socially distanced events. To bring in extra money when your campus isn’t in use, consider renting it out to individuals and groups for outdoor movie nights and holiday celebrations. If your school has a chapel, consider making it available for small wedding ceremonies and baptisms.
10. Create Live Virtual Programming for Preschool-Aged Children
Even if you don’t have a preschool or pre-K program at your school, creating experiences for younger children can offer multiple benefits for your institution. In addition to acting as an auxiliary revenue source, it also helps you introduce families to your school early — which could encourage them to enroll their children in the future.
Live, interactive programs — like music classes, storytime with a librarian, art lessons, and movement classes — are all excellent options for toddlers and preschoolers.
11. Hold an Online Auction Event
Auctions are popular fundraising activities because they’re fun for attendees and typically highly lucrative for schools. But because in-person events are tricky to manage with social distancing, and not everyone feels comfortable in public, it may be a good idea to plan an online auction instead.
In addition to choosing items to auction and defining rules, be sure to choose an energetic and charismatic host who can keep everyone motivated — even from afar. Plus, because parents can log in from anywhere (and don’t need to schedule a sitter), you may enjoy higher attendance than traditional on-campus events.
The pandemic has thrown everyone for a loop. And while it’s easy to feel dejected, it’s crucial you don’t overlook the many alternate private school revenue sources and auxiliary programs available to your school. By leveraging a few of the opportunities above, you can sustain your school through this challenging era and ensure you can continue delivering the top-quality education your families expect for many years to come.
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