Fundraising goals require big effort

The university will have to raise money at an unprecedented rate to meet its $1 billion target by 2011 after missing its fundraising goal this year by 14 percent.

“We are going to get to $1 billion,” said Brodie Remington, vice president for university relations, referencing the university’s Great Expectations campaign. “I am not going to jump off a cliff if it takes a month or two or three longer [than the deadline]. We’re just going to do the best we can.”

The university raised $112 million last year, but had hoped to match the record $130 million haul from 2007 and 2008. In total, $650 million has been raised for Great Expectations, which went public in 2006. To reach the deadline, the university must raise an unprecedented $142 million a year for the next two-and-a-half fiscal years.

Meeting the deadline, Remington acknowledged, will be “very tough,” particularly with a slumping economy.

“Unemployment rates are still climbing; mortgage defaults are still increasing; the stock market is up a little bit, but no one is confident that it will stay there,” Remington said. “We have tough circumstances but we’re just as determined or even more determined to succeed.”

Across the country, educational fundraising is estimated to have decreased about 4 percent last fiscal year, according to the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, a membership organization that builds partnerships between educational institutions and possible donors. CASE predicts that giving will increase slightly this upcoming year, about 2.5 percent. That’s a modest gain, given that in the past two decades fundraising has grown at an average rate of 7 percent.

“It still means that institutions are going to be playing catch up in their fundraising,” said Rae Goldsmith, the vice president for advancement resources.

Fundraising campaigns have long been a tool of private universities, but public schools are increasingly mounting sophisticated efforts, Goldsmith said. It isn’t uncommon for campaigns to extend deadlines, especially in a dampened economy. According to a self-reported 2008 CASE survey of fundraising campaigns, 41 percent of the 46 institutions that concluded campaigns in fiscal year 2008 had extended their deadlines.

“The key for the university is to stay engaged with donors who might not be ready to give quite yet, but they’ll be ready to give in a year or two,” Goldsmith said.

Though the university has not set this year’s fundraising goal, Remington said the university will continue its emergency scholarship drive, Keep Me Maryland, encourage non-monetary donations called planned gifts and attract younger donors and recent graduates.

Leadership gifts, or individual contributions of $1 million or more, were down last year, but “planned giving was our bright spot and we think that will continue to be really strong for us,” Remington said.

With planned gifts, people donate unused land or stocks, which the university then sells. The university invests the money and pays the donor a certain percentage of the dividend for a specific amount of time, then the proceeds.

The university will also use social networking to attract recent alumni to give to specific causes and projects, such as green initiatives or community service programs, Remington said.

About 20 percent of this year’s fundraising was planned gifts, Remington said. Of the remainder, about 41 percent came from corporate gifts, 28 percent from individual donations and 11 percent from charitable foundations.

Compared to other ACC schools, the university fared better when it came to raising money. Fundraising was down 12 to 22 percent across the conference, Remington said.

After Great Expectations, the university will pursue an even more aggressive fundraising plan. The strategic plan calls for the university to raise $160 million annually by 2013. That number increases to $225 million annually by 2018.

The university has not modified those goals, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Nariman Farvardin wrote in an e-mail. “It is too early to predict how the current economic crisis will impact our fundraising goals in 2013 and beyond,” Farvardin said.

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