by Jackie Zhang, Staff Writer, January 2022
Including every single member—students, educators, staff, parents, graduates, grandparents, etc—there are 12,000 people belonging to the Nobles community. Many of those people belong to Nobles’ large donor base. Whether it’s financial aid, a building project, or faculty support, the funds that donors provide to the school are crucial. Every year the donor base constantly grows, with 90 percent of those who give to the school being graduates and current parents. Donors give to projects and causes they feel are important and need their support. Recently, COVID-19 has made its contributions especially significant as the school seeks to navigate its way through a global pandemic.
The funds that the donors provide go into three categories. The first is multi-million dollar building projects. The Henderson Arts Center was built back in 2006, the Castle renovated in 2012, the Wiggins Dormitory constructed in 2004, and the Academic Center finished in 2018. These larger campaigns are the main part of what the Advancement Office does. Explaining why donors decide to contribute to large-scale capital projects such as buildings, Director of Development Lisa Rose (N’90) said, “When we built the library and the Academic Center, there were certain people that we thought, oh, this will appeal to them, or when they renovated the Castle. There were definitely people out there who had lived in the Castle, and we knew that that would be something that [donors] would want to support.”
Endowment funds are the second category of donations and serve as a savings account for the school. Nobles’ endowment fund currently amounts to $200 million and grows every year. “Each year we spend under five percent of our savings account [on] various needs, like financial aid, faculty support, and any other needs that our head of school or business manager thinks is necessary,” Chief Advancement Officer George Maley said.
The third category that a donor could give to is the Annual Nobles Fund. Out of all three categories, this is the most popular one. These are funds that go to any needs on campus: the First-Class Fund for Faculty is used to support teachers, professional development, and salaries. “We look for people to give in whatever capacity they’re able to,” Rose said. She added, “Because we don’t care about the dollars, we also care about the participation rate. And historically, Nobles has great participation rates among graduates, which says a lot to the people in the community, because they know that graduates continue to care about the school.”
The main job of the Advancement Office is to greet possible donors. “We go off campus to hold events as well as invite various people to join committees to work on behalf of the school,” Maley said. Talking and meeting potential donors contributes greatly to the donor base’s annual expansion.
In addition to going out and meeting people, Nobles also has stewardship programs that work to make sure that donors feel appreciated and loved. “Stewardship is one thing in the development world of which you just cannot do enough. We’ll do a variety of different things: sending letters, videos, emails,” Director of the Annual Nobles Fund Allie Trainor said. “Sometimes we’ve gotten students to help us write thank you note cards. I think we’ll try to organize that again around Valentine’s Day.”
The donor base of Nobles is crucial to how the school functions day to day and permits many of the privileges Nobles offers its students and faculty. The act of giving back is key to the core values at Nobles and defines how the community functions on a daily basis. “Nobles changed my life, it provided a platform and an opportunity for me to excel both academically and athletically. I built a lot of great relationships at Nobles with not only the students but the faculty and staff. ,” Chris Steele (N 08’) said. Steele is a frequent donor and the Co-Chair of the Annual Nobles Fund. He added, “I feel an obligation to give back and hopefully provide similar upbringings for younger students.”