U private donations up percent

by Tess Langfus

Private contributions to the University reached a record high of $234 million during the last fiscal year with alumni listed as the largest group of donators.
Donations increased by $99 million — a 73 percent increase since the 1999 fiscal year.
Campaign Minnesota, a fund-raising project established by the University of Minnesota Foundation, began in 1996 with a goal to reach $1.3 billion by 2003. To date, the University has raised $857 million.
More than 34,000 University alumni contributed $75 million, roughly 30 percent of the donations last year, according to a report from the University of Minnesota Foundation.
Margaret Carlson, associate vice president of Alumni Relations, said a combination of a good economy, abundant returns in the stock market and confidence in Mark Yudof as the University’s leader are the reasons for the increase in alumni contributions.
“It’s easier to give to an organization when you believe in the vision of the person at the top,” Carlson said.
“(Yudof) has a vision. He’s bold, he’s energetic and they have watched him deal with problems in a very effective way,” she added.
People have a lot of confidence with the leadership at the University, both with Yudof and with the deans, said Martha Douglas, director of communications at the University of Minnesota Foundation.
“If they are learning about some of the things that are happening in one of the colleges and they like what the dean is doing, that will motivate giving,” Douglas said.
Donators were also eager to contribute money because of the priorities for Campaign Minnesota, she said. The priorities include student scholarships and fellowships, faculty development, as well as research and strategic opportunities that support college needs on the campus.
The campaign also stressed to potential donors the importance of the University’s role in the state’s economy and quality of life. The University is instrumental in the development of technology and in the training of the state’s work force.
Companies who recruit employees from the University, Douglas said, also invest in their own future by donating to the school, giving themselves “access to an educated work force.”
Many research companies donate money to the University, but not necessarily to promote research for their own benefit, Douglas said.
“They’re not just paying for research just for their company, but there is a lot of research that leads to innovative applications,” Douglas said. “Research at the University has generated a lot of economic developments in the state.”

Tess Langfus welcomes comments at [email protected].