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Opening New Doors
FIS parent and Board Member, Dr. Seong-Han Kim shares his thoughts on giving at FIS
Frankfurt International School is a non-profit organization that welcomes tax-deductible donations in both Germany and the United States. FIS World staff interviewed FIS parent
and Board of Trustees member Dr. Seong-Han Kim to better understand why he has made the school part of his family’s philanthropic efforts.
Let’s start with a general question. Why give?
My parents were first-generation immigrants from Korea to Germany in the 1970s. My father came here with very little and was very grateful for the opportunities this new country offered our family. I will never forget how he once took me aside as a teenager and challenged me with regard to helping others: rather than aiming to adequately fulfill my share of contributions to my teammates and any group for that matter, to have the mindset of wanting to do more, to contribute more, if I can. These words have stuck with me.
But why give to FIS when there are so many other charity options?
Our family also supports other charities, but FIS is special to us because I can see the direct impact it has upon my children. As a member of the Board, I also know that these donations have an impact for the school and the parent community. They open doors that otherwise may have remained closed.
Can you give an example of how donations “open doors”?
One example is how it literally helps to support students who otherwise would not be able to attend FIS. The school’s Tuition Reduction Program has been helping current and new students with financial aid for many years.
Are there other initiatives that are important to you as a donor?
My wife Hanna and I chose to specifically donate to the FIS Foundation to add to its capital stock: the rules of the Foundation are such that the principal of the donations is invested to grow over time, while the earnings of these investments are used to support the school every year for generations to come. So, our donation will still be generating funds for new FIS initiatives into the next century! To us, this was a very motivating thought.
What is an appropriate donation amount for a parent to consider?
I don’t think that there is such a thing as an “appropriate amount.” Any contribution will make a difference and all gifts benefit the school and the FIS community. It does not matter whether it is a single-figure amount or a five-figure amount, as this is a very personal decision. But I would encourage everyone who can to consider a donation – the positive sense of contribution will make it worth it.
FIS not only provides an outstanding education for Seong-Han’s three children, it is a welcoming place for his entire family
Do you consider your Board volunteer work as a form of giving?
Well, I hope it is! (Laughs) I guess I think that giving my time and expertise is not mutually exclusive of making a donation. In fact, my role on the Board may make it easier for me to give because I see the positive impact of these funds.
How can a donor be sure that funds are used appropriately?
Our Board is very diligent in ensuring all funds, including those donated, are used prudently to have the greatest impact on the student and community experience. We also have external independent auditors that review our books each year for further accountability.
How are donations recognized by FIS?
Those who donate have their names listed in the school’s Annual Report. In addition, those that have donated a five- figure sum have their names inscribed on the plaque found in the Stroth Center. Although the plaque had nothing to do with our family’s decision of how much to give, it’s a fun thought that I may have grandchildren attend the school one day who can see our part in supporting the school.
Any final word to parents who are considering giving?
I would encourage everyone to consider donating to the school, especially if giving is part of your family culture. I am a private payer of tuition, and I recognize that FIS tuition is significant. However, I am always incredibly grateful whenever I am reminded of the wonderful impact the school has had upon my children and family. We don’t give because we feel we have to; we give out of gratitude for the teachers, the staff and administration and the entire FIS community.
 16 FIS World June 2022

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