Campaign Minnesota hits record level of alumni support

The University’s Campaign Minnesota fund-raiser reported July 31 raising nearly $1.2 billion of its $1.3 billion goal. Much of the success is due to the record number of donors in the last two years.

The University received more than $200 million in gifts for the second consecutive fiscal year, which ended June 30. The gifts came from slightly more than 72,000 donors – an 8 percent increase from last year.

“When people can see that their gifts are going to make a difference, that helps,” said Martha Douglas, director of communications for the University Foundation.

Scholarships and fellowships are a major goal of the campaign, said President Mark Yudof.

The campaign has faculty support, research and outreach programs on high priority.

Donations for scholarships and fellowships grew 58 percent to $45 million, probably a reflection of the Legislature’s lower-than-expected allocation, said Jerry Fischer, associate vice president of the University Foundation.

Alumni are supporting the campaign in the highest numbers. Approximately 35,000 alumni have donated $52 million, Douglas said.

“I think alumni are very encouraged by the leadership of President Mark Yudof,” said Margaret Carlson, associate vice president of the Alumni Association.

With alumni support at an all-time high, the University will appeal to them more directly in the next year. University fund-raisers will contact more than 230,000 alumni and send them information encouraging donations.

More than 7,000 faculty at the University have given approximately $44 million to the fund-raiser since the campaign’s start.

Yudof announced the campaign’s commencement Oct. 21, 1999, but it officially started July 1, 1996. The campaign’s goal is to raise $1.3 billion by June 30, 2003.

Fischer said although the campaign enjoyed “the best of times,” the Legislature’s effects on public confidence in the University concern him.

“Donors want to be with a winner,” he said. “The Legislature and governor pulling back from the University is a cautionary figure for donors.”

In the last few months, donations have slowed slightly, Fischer said.

“Donors definitely are motivated to give when they see success at the University,” said Douglas. “Success breeds success.”

The University is working to project a positive image. Tightened admission policies in several colleges are underway. The University of Florida’s “Top American Research Universities” report named the University as one of the top three U.S. public research institutions. Douglas said this will reflect positively in the campaign’s earnings.

“We tend to see more donations when positive things are happening at the University,” Douglas said.

The campaign is an enormous success, Carlson said. “The question now is, how high is high?”