The Society of Jesus in the early modern period produced the largest network of schools the world had known and left an indelible mark on the structures of schooling in Europe into modern times. The distinctive schools were substantial and offered a mixture of civic humanism based on classical texts and theological studies but also, according to place, languages and mathematics, all offered without cost to parents. How was the money raised to build and sustain these institutions by a mendicant order? It is here argued that we see the first indications of the kind of fundraising activities practised by modern front-rank American universities, including building up significant friends, producing newsletters and publications, suppressing mention of failures and accentuating successes and involving a broad spectrum of influential people of both sexes in the expansion process. The author's intent is to argue for a more nuanced approach to the motives of donors than that current in recent historiography.