Menlo Launches Public Phase of Centennial Campaign with Celebration Before Homecoming Game


A chalk drawing celebrating Menlo’s centennial in 2015. The quiet phase of the Centennial fundraising campaign began at the school’s centennial, and it is being launched to the public at a celebration on the loop before the homecoming football game. Photo courtesy of Menlo Flickr.

Elisabeth Westerman, Opinions Editor

On Friday, Oct. 11, preceding the first-ever night homecoming game, Menlo will be launching the public phase of its Centennial fundraising campaign. 

The school started the “quiet” or “silent” phase of the fundraising campaign at Menlo’s centennial in 2015. The goals were to raise money for capital projects such as the expanded library, dining commons, student center and renovations to athletic facilities, such as the track and tennis courts, in addition to the school’s endowment. According to Lara Sellers, Menlo’s Director of Major Gifts and Campaigns, it’s common for independent schools to start campaigns with a “quiet” phase, and typically the purpose is to raise about 75% of the goal amount before launching the campaign to the public. 

One of the major aspects of the quiet phase that distinguishes it from the public phase is that Menlo was largely accepting restricted donations, which allowed donors to designate where their donation would be spent, in addition to unrestricted donations where the gift could all toward all areas of the campaign including specific buildings and endowment. Now in the public phase, Menlo is primarily accepting unrestricted donations. The current threshold to make a restricted donation to the campaign is now $100,000. 

The public part of the campaign will last until June of this school year. According to Sellers, many independent schools’ fundraising campaigns last between five and seven years. In periods where the school is not actively coordinating a fundraising campaign, money is always being raised for endowment.

According to Sellers, the goal since the beginning was to launch the public part of the campaign four years after the start of the quiet phase. “The timing worked out as we had originally planned in the beginning, but that doesn’t always happen with campaigns. We’re fortunate to be in that situation now,” she said. 

Menlo has not specified a specific goal amount for the public phase of the campaign. According to Sellers, the school is still raising money for both capital projects and endowment. Once the capital projects are fully funded, the school will look to raise as much money as possible for the endowment. 

The school made the decision to hold the campaign launch event during homecoming weekend to maximize attendance. “We decided homecoming weekend would be great, because we could also include our alumni […] [Also,] not many of our families go out of town that weekend because they want to be here for homecoming and all of the events surrounding it,” Sellers explained. 

According to Sellers, the idea to host a large campaign celebration during homecoming and a night football game evolved simultaneously when trying to plan a flow for the day. “We thought it would be fantastic if we could have an event in the afternoon that would lead into Menlo’s first ever homecoming game under the lights,” Sellers said. The celebration before the game will include food trucks, student performances and a speech from Menlo parent and Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg. According to Sellers, there will be no fundraising at the celebration. 

The goal of the event is to celebrate the Menlo community and bring attention to the campaign. “We’re thrilled to have a big celebration that will be fun for all of our students and families and alumni who will be in town for homecoming weekend. […] It’s to celebrate the community, to celebrate Menlo and to educate and inform people about the priorities of the campaign,” Sellers said.