LESSONS LEARNED IN PREPARATION AND PLANNING
1.Carefully form an executive committee consisting of the (1) designated teacher or school personnel, (2) someone from the champion organization, and (3) an officer from the church or 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization handling the funding. Avoid letting the committee feel that they must approve or have a policy that covers each voucher. The children will be best served if the program has broad guidelines.
2.Larger churches and 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organizations within the community should be considered first when selecting a fiscal agent. They are more likely to have established accounts with local merchants. They also represent respected financial responsibility within the community. Churches or any nonprofit organization with a 501 (c)(3) status could serve as the fiscal agent. Their size, accountability, and community reputation should all be considered.
3.The executive committee program guidelines should provide for wide flexibility within the program. The designated teacher knows each child and his or her home situation. The committee should allow the teacher to respond to the childs needs without having to defend each decision to the executive committee. For example, if the teacher needs to purchase an item that is not sold by one of the participating program merchants, there should be enough freedom within the programs guidelines to enable the teacher to find an alternative merchant or service that will provide the item and invoice the programs account. The executive committee should delegate the power to the teacher to make any decision that would appropriately respond to the needs of the student.
4.Every effort should be made to keep all decisions and purchases confidential. Students are extremely sensitive about their needs and will not use the program if they feel they will be talked about within the school, community, or among their peers. All reports and evaluations should be carefully written to avoid any identifiable reference to a specific student or family situation, and to guarantee their privacy and confidentiality.
5.Fund-raising presentations for the SWAN Program should include factual data to show that the funds are utilized as intended. Also, give examples of how the program has actually helped students. Because the program depends on donations, one or two promotional presentations need to be made each year. The executive committee needs to plan for presentations.
6.In order to make the best use of precious community resources, the designated teacher should be knowledgeable about accessing all available programs and resources. Many other programs can handle the big ticket items. The SWAN Program is designed for the small items that are needed quickly.
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