Albion College’s fundraising efforts paid off in a 46.5 percent increase in overall fundraising for the 2010-2011 fiscal year. Donations from alumni, faculty and staff increased by $2.7 million, bringing the fundraising total to $8.3 million.
“We work really hard to increase alumni participation—there’s no gift that’s too small,” said Sue VanWassenhove, associate vice president for annual giving and alumni engagement. “People get in the habit of giving; they may choose to make a larger gift down the road.”
Despite this increase in donations, Albion faces a difficult financial year. Enrollment decreased by 136 students for the current academic year. Albion has also increased tuition by almost 4 percent, an increase that was completely unrelated to the decline in enrollment, said Mike Frandsen, vice president for finance and administration.
Tuition, fees, room and board covers 78 percent of the total cost of education for a student. The remaining part must come from auxiliary operations, individual donations, foundations, government support and corporate donations, Frandsen said. Some of these donations may be annual gifts, while others may be gifts to the endowment.
Of the $8.3 million in donations, $3.5 million is represented in future, or planned gifts, which include, for example, money given in a will or estate gifts.
“While very important for the institution’s future, they have no current year impact,” Frandsen said.
The $4.8 million in cash donations was divided several ways according to the donor’s preference. Current operations received $1.6 million. Approximately 80 percent of the $1.6 million was in the form of unrestricted gifts, and the remaining money was given for scholarships.
The remaining $3.2 million was donated for long-term purposes. Most of this money went to the endowment. Gifts that are planned represent $3.5 million.
Alumni receive direct mail, email and phonathon solicitations. Faculty and staff were sent emails inviting them to participate in the faculty and staff campaign.
The five week faculty and staff campaign ran Sept. 1-Oct. 1. The campaign concluded with 36 percent participation from employees, which was a 5 percent increase from last year’s campaign.
Cheryl Almeda, president of the alumni board, attributes several factors to the increase in donations.
“People are becoming more strategic where they spend money—they’re much more deliberate and prioritize,” Almeda said. “They begin to think about their education and think it’s time to give back.”
During the 2008-2009 fiscal year, $5.7 million was donated to the college. None of this was in the form of future, planned gifts. Scholarships remained at approximately $300,000 each year.
The main difference between the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 donations was the value of money given in wills, Frandsen said. The 2009-2010 fiscal year value was half a million greater than in 2008-2009.
“Every dollar helps. If every person from my class gave $10, it’s going to make a large difference,” said Olivia Gardner, member of the alumni board and 2009 alumna.
1. The endowment is a financial asset of the College that is invested to support Albion across generations in accordance with donor wishes. It funds a portion of the operating fund of the College each year. The endowment has a number of restricted endowments that fund specific areas such as scholarships.
1. If an individual donates to the college and designates the gift as unrestricted, the college can designate this money to whatever area they choose.
1. If an individual donates to the college and designates the gift as restricted, the college will give this donation to the donor’s preference. This may be a specific department, scholarships, the endowment etc.
Future or Planned Gifts
1. Money that an individual designates to the college. For example, the individual may bequest the gift in their will. The money makes no immediate impact until the person is deceased. This can be in the form of a restricted or an unrestricted gift.
I think the real story here is that people actually have money to donate during the worst economic crisis since the Depression.