Enrollment in Christian schools is surging nationwide, a new study shows.
Nearly 80% of Christian school leaders report their schools have grown “somewhat” or “significantly” over the last two years.
The study, by nonprofit consulting firm DickersonBakker, outlined the opportunities and challenges Christian schools are facing as enrollment climbs and families increasingly seek private education options.
The pandemic pulled back the curtain on public education, and many parents didn’t like what they saw. School closures, curriculum issues and the increase in social and moral policies that were at odds with most families’ beliefs caused parents and students to leave public school systems.
A recent survey by EdChoice also shows a whopping 40% of parents now prefer a private school option for their children.
However, as Christian schools’ enrollment climbs, there are challenges.
In the DickersonBakker study, Christian school leaders noted a lack of classroom/facility space; financial and budget constraints; and struggles hiring teachers to meet enrollment demand as some of the top issues created by serving more students.
To overcome these challenges, Christian school leaders recognize the need for financial sustainability planning and increased fundraising efforts. However, most lack the staffing or resources to increase their fundraising to meet the demand of educating more students.
While 97% of school leaders surveyed said they knew improving fundraising was crucial to the future of their schools, only 4 out of 10 schools employ fulltime fundraising staff. Moreover, Christian schools on average spend less than 3% of their annual budget on fundraising, while the typical number for nonprofits is nearly 14%.
The study revealed the need for Christian schools to take advantage of booming enrollment trends, and focus their efforts on fundraising for the long term to support operations, staffing and tuition assistance.
“Seven of the top ten challenges that Christian school leaders report encountering relate to financial sustainability and can be helped by improving fundraising for annual operations,” the study’s author wrote. “Christian school leaders are almost unanimous in recognizing that raising more money for annual operations is very important to ensuring the future of their school.”