Elevate Philanthropy ™
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Success Story

The Potomac School

Top-rated independent private day school creates a donor-centric culture of philanthropy to achieve its fundraising goals.

The Situation

For more than 100 years, The Potomac School has balanced academic achievement and character development in educating students who excel as both scholars and as people. While the school is currently enjoying record-high enrollment, its leadership recognized the need for substantial investments in all areas of operation, especially growing their endowment and improving campus facilities.


The Solution

As part of Campaign Planning services, Graham-Pelton conducted more than 50 strategic discussions and analyzed responses from 800 electronic surveys. We evaluated the school’s ability to raise the target funds for case elements including a new athletic center; renovations to the Middle School; and growth of the endowment to support excellence in teaching, innovative academic programs, and technology. As a result of the study, we recommended that Potomac immediately launch a five-year comprehensive campaign.

We then transitioned to campaign stewardship planning, advising the school on developing an active stewardship program that focuses on the benefit to and recognition of leadership, major, and annual fund donors. We recommended staff roles and responsibilities in promoting a donor-centric culture of philanthropy. We helped refine and finalize a case for support and develop a communications plan to help guide staff now and into the future.


The Success

In late 2019, Potomac administrators, faculty, trustees, and nearly 1,500 students inaugurated the school’s new Spangler Center for Athletics and Community. Thanks to a principal gift strategized by a female trustee and philanthropist and her family, the gift also served to inspire others, ultimately raising more than $36m with a number of major gifts continuing to lead the way. As part of a campaign that was inclusive, thoughtful, and strategic, the facility is heralded for “enhancing our interscholastic athletics program, offering activities that promote health and wellness, fueling school spirit, and fostering the strong sense of community for which Potomac is known,” according to Potomac Head of School John Kowalik.

Graham-Pelton continues to advise The Potomac School as it focuses on reigniting and refining its campaign efforts – both to support a thoughtful strategic plan and meet student needs that have been realized in recent years. This includes a disciplined and forward-thinking pipeline management process, the development of a campaign tracking system, and a concerted effort to engage alumni, all in support of capital and endowment growth.

You can raise more money. We can show you how.