I couldn't fall asleep last night because I was mentally revisiting the gathering of development officers I attended earlier in the day.
When I mentioned that I was charging my alumni advisory council with leading the charge with each 8th grade to establish a fifty-year term endowment, one development director from a NJ school asked, in a rather discouraging tone, "Don't you find it difficult to convince donors to give to endowment, with all that has happened in the markets?"
He didn't like my response.
Actually, I don't think that he understood my analogy, nor do I think that he understood the possibilities that are staring us in the face right now.
My response was - and I admit that I borrowed it from something I had read or seen somewhere - "It's K-Mart out there, and the blue light is on!"
Point: equities are at historically CHEAP prices right now; to not invest money in your endowment would be foolish. Think long term. Think of what your school's return will be in 10, 25, 50 years!
Is it difficult? Absolutely. Is it impossible? No. However, it takes big thinking to get past the hand-wringing and the status-quo-is-comfortable thinking that is paralyzing too many schools. See the "FedEx box commercial" on YouTube for a great visual of what I'm talking about.
As one of my favorite twentieth-century German poets, Gunter Eich, wrote "Wacht auf, denn ihre Traume sind schlecht!" [Wake up, for your dreams are bad!]
In other words, it's time to stand up and lead! It's not pretty out there, but we can't just sit on our hands and continue to be crushed by the bulldozer of economic doom and gloom.
There's opportunity everywhere, but our schools need leaders now more than ever, especially those who can manage discomfort and crisis while treating them as the new normal. The much-beloved status quo is history.