Over the life of the transformative How Far? campaign,the Penn Charter Annual Fund has risen to meet and even exceed expectations. In the last year, on a goal of $1.5 million, the fund raised $1.72 million.
“The Annual Fund has grown by $50,000 each year since 2013, achieving one of the foundational goals of the How Far? campaign and showing the power of our community when we come together,” said Chief Development Officer Jack Rogers.
The Annual Fund is critical to Penn Charter’s success. Emma Rowan, director of the Annual Fund, explained that the fund ensures that PC can attract and retain the most qualified faculty; can institute new educational technologies; and enroll the most talented students and develop their skills and values for a rapidly changing world. “The Annual Fund helps ensure rock-solid operations that make possible excellence across academics, arts and athletics today, and into the future,” she said.
Hundreds of donors representing every constituency in the PC community—parents, OPCs and OPC parents, faculty and staff, grandparents, former employees, and friends of the school—support the fund.
“The Annual Fund is by our community, for our community,” said Rogers. “What’s more Penn Charter than that?”
The collective power of Annual Fund gifts powers PC. These individual stories reveal the spirit of community, and gratitude, at the heart of each gift.
Looking back at his eight-year-long experience as a Penn Charter parent, Greg Veith P ’21 adds up all the things over the years that confirm for him that PC was the right place for his daughter, Julia.
Veith speaks foremost and admiringly about his daughter’s group of friends. And he recounts how Middle School teachers supported and nurtured Julia and her friends during the rough waters that can come in those years.He speaks warmly of teachers Charlie Brown, Jim Fiorile and Joe Fitzmartin. He relives watching Julia onstage for assorted plays, musicals and concerts.
Veith is enormously proud of Julia, who was recruitedto row for Stanford University, and his gratitude toPenn Charter runs deep.
“You’re talking to someone who hit the lottery,” Veith said. “She wouldn’t have gone to Stanford if she didn’t go to PC. But PC was the perfect fit long before the college result,” he said.
Each year, parents of the graduating class come together to make the Senior Parent Gift, a component of Penn Charter’s Annual Fund. Contributions from many families, ranging in size and each important to the end result, support professional development for the faculty and staff as a way of saying thank you—and also strengthening PC for future generations. This year, 74 percent of the Class of 2021 parents participated in making gifts, surpassing their goal and raising more than $107,000.
“PC was very generous to us, and for Julia, it was the perfect school. How do you repay that?”
“As best you can,” said Veith, answering his own question.
Unorthodox Giving Timeline
Veith took an unusual path this year to join the ranks of PC’s leadership donors.
“I’d be watching TV at night and come across something and think of Penn Charter, so I’d send $100.” Later, “I’d get the magazine and the yellow envelope was in there, so I’d send a little more.”
And soon two gifts, three, four—they started adding up. “I had no plan, there was no thinking it out,” Veith said of this approach. But at some point Assistant Director of Development Nicole Martz informed Veith that he and his wife, Patricia, were getting close to $1,689, the entry point into the William Penn Society.
“So I decided to go for that.” And just like that, with small gifts adding up over time, the Veiths had made a leadership gift. (More about the William Penn Society on the inside back cover.)
“I probably should be on a monthly plan,” joked Veith. “It might have been 10 times or more last year, generally on a whim, but it always came from the same place of feeling unbelievably appreciative and terribly fortunate.”
Stepping Up With Reunion Giving
In gratitude and because he believes in what the school can do for its students, and what it will do for his daughter, Mickey Sala OPC ’96, P ’28 has supported the Annual Fund consistently since he graduated.
“I was a lifer. Penn Charter is the only school I really knew,” Sala said. “It gave me a lot of consistency and gave me the confidence as I grew up that I think, overall, helped me become who I am today.”
Sala built his confidence in the classroom, and on the playing fields. Project by project, and game by game, it really added up.
“What I fully appreciated about PC was that if you wanted to try something, you could,” explained Sala. “The environment created that movement for me academically and athletically. I had never played lacrosse, but I picked up a stick in sixth grade and ended up playing in college.” Sala enrolled in Bucknell University without the status of an athletic recruit, but had the ability and confidence to walk on to the Bucknell lacrosse team.
Sala is part of the equation of growth of the Annual Fund.
This past year, Sala and his wife, Jen, were inspired to give a larger gift than prior years because of Mickey’s experience, because it was his reunion year, and because their daughter, Annabel, begins her PC career this year as a new sixth grader. It all added up. “We feel fortunate of the position we are in and wanted to give back to the institutions that helped us get there,” he said. “We felt is was time for us to step up and do our part to ensure other people have the opportunity to experience PC.”
Employer-Matching Gifts: Magnify Your Gift
For Drew and Tanya Aldinger P ’26, ’28, one plus one equals two, and more. When their elder children started at Penn Charter, the Aldingers were happy to see each child quickly and warmly enveloped into school life.
“Hannah started in sixth grade, and she was welcomed into the community in a really great way,” said Drew. “What was more impressive was when [my son] Drew started amid covid, he still felt part of the community almost immediately.”
Hannah and Drew are now in eighth and sixth grade, respectively, and their parents trace their son’s welcoming experience to efforts made by both his teachers and by his peers.
Adding it all together, the family is inspired to support the Penn Charter Annual Fund for all the reasons they chose PC, plus all the reasons why they continue to love it. The balance of academics, service, arts and athletics attracted the Aldingers to PC, and “it was very important for us to continue in a Quaker education.” Tanya said. “Our children are challenged to go beyond their comfort zone in and out of the classroom.”
Drew and Tanya Aldinger amplified their gift using a matching program at Tanya’s employer, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). Programs can vary from one company to another, but GSK’s matching program is a dollar-for-dollar match of an employee’s charitable contribution, one of the most common ratios. And, while the Aldingers chose to direct their gift to the Annual Fund, matching gifts can double (and sometimes even triple) the impact on any fund a donor chooses.
“We do have a certain amount of enthusiasm that the gift can be more impactful when matched—it is magnified,” said Drew.
Likewise, Kerry and Patrick Cahill P ’27 increased the impact of their philanthropy by having their Annual Fund gift matched by Kerry’s employer, Sammons Retirement Solutions. “It was important to us to maximize and compound our interest and gift-giving capabilities with Penn Charter,” Kerry said.
Their motivation for embracing new ways to give to Penn Charter is similar to the Aldingers’. “We want to give more to the PC community as it has already created significant contributions to our family, and more importantly to the genuine growth of our daughter Alexa.”
“We are blessed and fortunate to be present within the Penn Charter community,” Kerry said. “And, if our financial contribution and stewardship can help others experience similar opportunities and create memories for their family, we are happy to do so today and in the future.”