U’s fund-raising campaign paying off

by Allison Miller

Money is a necessity for students and the University alike; the only difference is the University can’t turn to parents and holidays for fund raising. Instead, it created Campaign Minnesota.
The campaign, designed to raise $1.3 billion by December 2003, has collected $778 million through March, an amount that is “more than ahead of schedule,” said Martha Douglas, director of communications for the University of Minnesota Foundation, the University’s fund-raising body.
The University is not alone in launching such an ambitious campaign. Similar efforts have been made nationwide, including a recent announcement by the University of California-Los Angeles that they collected a record-setting $1.6 billion, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.
It is the largest amount ever collected by any single campus of a public university. Part of UCLA’s success can be attributed to an abundance of large private gifts — 137 gifts of $5 million or more.
The University of Minnesota has also received a substantial amount of private donations, including 136 gifts between $1 million and $5 million, and 13 between $5 million and $25 million. Although the campaign has not yet seen a $25 million donation, it has received several large gifts, including $15 million from the McKnight Foundation and $16 million from the Lillehei family.
The McKnight Foundation gift was used to create 15 McKnight presidential endowed chair positions. The Lillehei gift will establish a heart institute within the Medical School, as well as a chair position for nursing leadership.
As for the prospects of the University exceeding its goal, “We’re hopeful but can’t guarantee the future,” said Jerry Fischer, University Foundation president and chief executive officer. “Just as UCLA, we are fund raising in a wonderful environment with a successful stock market and economy.”
“Throughout the University, all parts have received a gift to date. Most schools are at 50 to 60 percent goal,” Douglas said.
The only areas with less than half of the foundation’s target funding are student support and unrestricted funding, which are both at one-third of its goals.
The area of unrestricted funding, with a proposed $40 million target, is designed to allow for more flexibility in spending.
“Historically, most donors like to restrict their gifts to specific purposes,” Fischer said. The unrestricted funds encourage donors to “consider gifts given at the discretion of the president, dean or chancellor.”
This is especially important, Fischer said, because “with the rate of change in our society you can’t be exactly sure what will be the most important opportunity in 10 years for the University.”
The campaign is broken down into several areas of funding, including $540 million for endowments, $275 million for faculty initiatives, $225 million for student programs and $40 million in unrestricted funding.

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