Lycée Français de Chicago


Delivering a $35 million new campus

Details

Location:

Chicago, Illinois

Description:

Established 1995, the Lycée Français de Chicago is a preeminent pre-K-12 independent school with over 750 students granting French and International Baccalaureates.

Challenges

Engaged by the newly placed Head of School in the Lycée’s 15th year, the annual fund raised almost $150,000 from less than 50% of families. Lycée families come from over 35 countries where they are unaccustomed to the traditions of philanthropy as a requisite source of independent school funding. Expatriate families may only reside in this country for a few years; large numbers of alumni live outside the U.S. In a campaign setting, such a transitory constituency provides — quite literally — a constantly moving target.

"Lycée families come from over 35 countries where they are unaccustomed to the traditions of philanthropy as a requisite source of independent school funding."

K2 Role &
Results

Key influencers within the parent community were recruited and engaged in the design of the campaign process. They carefully recruited other parents by natural classroom and grade affiliations.

"Embracing a role as change agents as much as fundraisers, volunteers’ early successes deepened their commitment to the process."

A separate Major Gifts Committee focused on $10,000+ giving, led by two members of the board that were highly respected as transformational leaders. Stimulated by the prospect of growing personally through the experience, parent volunteers were receptive to K2’s coaching and training initiatives. Embracing a role as change agents as much as fundraisers, volunteers’ early successes deepened their commitment to the process.

As these successes gathered momentum, a two-year planning process identified land for a new campus. But securing the land hinged on raising enough money in time. Midway through the feasibility study, lead gift levels, while extremely generous, were still falling short of what was necessary to proceed with the new campus. With a deadline looming on the down payment for the land, K2 returned to a select few study participants with an urgent new question: “Would you consider increasing your gift so we can recommend proceeding with confidence?” Their generous responses made the new campus possible. Sometimes, success hinges on bold and timely questions asked of the right people.