Nonprofit organizations, according to Judith Sharkin Simon, go through typically five stages of development. Christian schools are no different. These stages should be of great importance to leaders so they can better recognize the trajectory of their school.
It is essential that schools look for significant ways to avoid failures of the past, which namely boil down to … finances. For years, we have given away money we have not had, forgiven tuition debts, undercharged, under-filled classrooms, over-filled classrooms, offered discounts for anything, and basically under-priced ourselves in hopes of attracting and maintaining enrollment.
Christian schools are looking for leadership that is biblical, professional, full of integrity, and focused on bringing potential change and vigor to stagnant missions and stalling enrollments. The challenge is great. Key leaders are not located around every corner, and schools are faced with a great dilemma … “who is to lead the school forward”.
It is estimated that 50% of Christian schools in the US are out of compliance with their 501(c)3 requirements. Why do we say this? After surveying hundreds of Christian schools across the US, we have learned that while most schools (96%) give out some sort of financial aid, only about half use a formal application.
Many Christian school leaders make decisions based on experience and “feel.” Certainly, some decisions can be made without collecting data in a systematic fashion. However, a formal data-based decision making process can help Christian school leaders identify important variables related to more efficient operations and decision making than relying on past experiences, memory, or feel as they make important changes and adjustments to culture and tradition.