Frequently Asked Questions

What role does philanthropy play at Menlo School?

Thanks to the diligence and planning of the School’s administration and Trustees, Menlo is financially stable. The culture of philanthropy at Menlo is very strong and the community is very generous. Menlo relies on philanthropic contributions to fund a portion of the operating budget. Philanthropic contributions allow Menlo to provide the facilities, faculty, program, and aid that make it a diverse community and one of excellence.

What is the Menlo School Annual Fund?

Menlo’s Annual Fund directly impacts every aspect of the School, and is the “margin of excellence” in all that we do. The School depends on the Annual Fund to contribute approximately 10% of the annual operating budget, which translates to $4.3 million this school year. The Annual Fund is also a tangible representation of Menlo’s powerful community culture of philanthropy. In 2020-2021, 94% of our current parents and 93% of faculty and staff supported the Annual Fund, showing that they believe in the School and want to make a difference in each student’s Menlo experience.

Gifts to the Annual Fund ensure that Menlo can:

  • Develop new academic initiatives
  • Expand offerings in academics, arts and athletics
  • Equip students, faculty and coaches with the resources they need
  • Enhance professional development opportunities for faculty and staff
  • Fund technological innovations
  • Attract and enroll the best students regardless of their financial means

What does the bulk of Annual Fund money go towards?

The Annual Fund, like our operating budget, primarily supports our faculty and our programs. 75% of Menlo’s operating budget goes to salary and benefits. This is in line with the national average. The Annual Fund supports all the operations of the School including the financial aid program. Menlo has awarded aid in the amount of $7.3 million in 2021-2022. About 21% of the students are receiving financial aid this year.

How do Menlo’s athletic and arts programs benefit from the Annual Fund?

Menlo’s athletics and arts programs are fully funded by the operating budget at a level which allows them to be excellent without need for additional fundraising. The Annual Fund is critical to that.

What is Menlo’s endowment? What is the draw on that endowment and what does it fund?

Menlo’s endowment is $80 million as of June 30, 2021. Menlo’s draw is 4% of the past three years’ average value. Endowment (and other income) represents 6% of the operating budget. Funds from the endowment are used to fund financial aid, programs, and faculty support.

Why does Menlo have an Annual Fund rather than simply make tuition higher?

The Annual Fund helps us to keep our tuition at a level of affordability that promotes a diverse student body and to maintain a tuition that is competitive with our peer schools. All gifts to Menlo are tax-deductible.

We hear other schools talk about a tuition “gap.” What is Menlo’s “gap”?

The “gap” is the amount of the operating budget that is funded by the Annual Fund. That amount is approximately $5,000 per student.

Why is our leadership level at $5,000?

A leadership level of $5,000 ensures financial sustainability and flexibility for Menlo in the future. The $5,000 level is in line with peer and feeder schools. Finally, the portion of the operating budget contributed by the annual fund is approximately $5,000 per student. In order to be part of the Leadership Club we ask that you show leadership by giving at or more than the per-student contribution.

We are not able to give at the leadership level; will our gift make a difference?

Absolutely! Every gift matters. The participation of our entire community is critical to the success of our work. Every student benefits from the Annual Fund. Community support for the Annual Fund reflects the strong culture of philanthropy at our school. Participation is a metric which is used nationally and most easily signifies confidence in the school. Strong parent participation can be an indicator for foundations and other organizations, who are considering a gift to Menlo. Our goal is to reach 100% every year!

We give to the School in so many other ways; can our gift of time count towards participation?

Menlo would not be the same School without the incredible gift of time and talent from our parent community. The School relies on parental support of the Annual Fund to achieve our goals and keep tuition as low as possible and competitive with our peer schools. A participatory gift of any amount is appreciated.

What happens if we raise more than the goal for the Annual Fund? How are the extra funds used?

Extra funds raised give the School flexibility to offer more aid or take advantage of a programmatic opportunity that may present itself over the course of the year.

Menlo asks us for money in many ways. How do we prioritize?

There are three primary ways that the Development Office asks for support from the Menlo community:

  • Annual Giving (Annual Fund) to support the operating budget each year.
  • Live and Online Auctions to support the financial aid budget.
  • Campaigns for capital projects and endowment. In June 2020, the School concluded the Menlo Centennial Campaign, its fourth major capital campaign.

The school relies on the Annual Fund to support the operating budget each and every year. We ask that all families participate in the Annual Fund and hope that each family will make Menlo their top philanthropic priority.

I am a Menlo alumnus/a and a current parent. Should I make my gift to the Annual Fund or to the Alumni Scholarship Fund (ASF)?

The Annual Fund and the ASF are both critical annual fundraising efforts. The Annual Fund is a current use fund that supports the operating budget each year. The ASF is a permanently endowed scholarship fund, funded through annual gifts each year. While we ask current parents to make the Annual Fund their top giving priority at Menlo, we also ask that parents who are also alumni consider allocating a portion of their gift to the ASF.

How do I make my gift?

You can make your gift or pledge online at, by check, wire transfer, donation of stock or through your employer’s matching gift program. Gifts are tax-deductible.

Does it matter when I make my gift?

Yes. A gift or pledge made early in the school year is a great advantage to the School because it enables us to know how much money will be available to support the School’s budget. The goal is to have all Annual Fund commitments in by November 30, 2021. Pledges must be paid by May 31, 2022. We ask that matching gift pledges be submitted to employers by March 1, 2022.