The University Record, September 25, 2000

U gears up for major fundraising effort

By Jane R. Elgass

A massive, Universitywide planning effort is under way to help define priorities for a fundraising campaign that will be launched in 2002. The Regents were briefed by executive officers and fundraising volunteers on activities to-date and a future timetable at their meeting last week.

Since last spring, Provost Nancy Cantor has been leading a group that is representative of a number of campus units—faculty and administrators as well as development staff—to identify academic priorities. President Lee C. Bollinger also has been working with an advisory group of alumni and friends of the University.

Deans and others were asked last winter to come up with specifics, and several academic units have devoted faculty retreats to these discussions. Identification of priorities, under broad umbrella themes, will help focus additional discussions next spring on potential dollar goals for the project, which will exceed the then-record $1.4 billion raised in the 1990–97 Campaign for Michigan. That total is the largest ever raised by any public university.

This will be the University’s fourth major campaign, the first occurring in the 1960s and the second in the early 1980s. Records for the first campaign were discarded at its conclusion, the thinking at the time, Bollinger noted in his remarks, being that major campaigns were undertaken only once a century.

A thriving University in need of more money and decreased state funding changed that picture in the 1980s, and the realization that University needs outstripped other sources of funding (state support and sponsored research) prompted that effort.

The new “massive enterprise” will demand the efforts of many people, all of whom need to “feel significant devotion to the University and put in the time,” Bollinger said.

Shortly after the close of the 1990–97 campaign, “interested observers” and people on campus were asked how they felt about another one, he explained. “We didn’t want to venture into one unless there was energy and enthusiasm behind it.” The key rule in efforts of this nature, he noted, is that “you must not fail.”

“Everyone felt it was a critical step that needed to be taken, that we must do this. A campaign needs substance and hope to make it happen. We have to get everyone to think about it.”

Cantor noted that “the importance of the campaign can’t be overstated. Our goal is to do what it takes to sustain and grow our success.”

As a “great public university,” the U-M has certain imperatives—exploration, education, opportunity, preservation and character. “These are distinguishing characteristics that we at Michigan should feel very proud of, because we do all of them perhaps better than any other institution. But they are also, frankly, all very difficult to sustain.”

The University also faces cost-drivers—being competitive in terms of innovation, escalating costs of recruiting and retaining talented faculty, and keeping tuition affordable.

While the University must continue to “aggressively pursue” sponsored research, and continue its productive partnership with the state, it also must invest in private support.

In each of the past campaigns, the University has improved advance planning efforts, “and that discipline has helped transform the budget process,” Cantor noted. This has resulted in outright gifts or endowment payouts that account for 5 percent to 10 percent of unit operating revenues. She anticipates that over the next 10 years this share of revenues can double. “Support from individuals, foundations and corporations is the best opportunity for resource expansion.”

Last January, Cantor and Susan K. Feagin, vice president for development, asked deans and directors to submit fundraising goals and priorities. “We did not ask for ‘wish lists,’” Cantor said. “We wanted to initiate a disciplined campaign process right from the start, one that acknowledges the importance of coordinating all the University’s revenue streams—state support, sponsored research and gifts.”

That request resulted in “an evolving matrix of priorities covering the entire campus,” and enabled the establishment of the University Campaign Planning Committee, which “is considering the priorities as a whole, to see the connections among the priorities so we can begin to tell our campaign story.”

Cantor is pleased with the group’s energy and enthusiasm, which she said “reflects the broader understanding among faculty and others of the campaign’s importance to our future.”

“Two groups of cross-cutting priorities have emerged,” she said. The first, thematic priorities—life sciences, information technology, arts and culture, the student experience, globalization—“reflect a sense of where the University wants to be.”

The second identifies proposed uses of campaign money:

  • Funds for faculty recruitment and retention, as well as named chairs.

  • Funds for undergraduate and graduate student support.

  • Funds for new programs and the evolution of existing programs.

  • Funds for technology, infrastructure and facilities, including renovation.

    The campaign, Cantor added, also “is an opportunity for the University community as a whole to reflect on what it is that makes us great—what we want to do better, how we want to focus old and new resources to accurately reflect academic strengths, the emerging areas we will have to address, donors’ interests, how we talk to people about the University and where we want to be.”

    “We are not just raising money so we can say we have the best endowment,” Cantor added. “This effort will help us spread the message on and off campus about what the University is about. It will be conducted in a coordinated and disciplined fashion.”

    New campaign goal will be determined later

    Susan K. Feagin, vice president for development, presented a quick look at former and current funding resources, increases that have enabled the University to confidently undertake a new fundraising effort that will be marked by high expectations. None of the speakers at last week’s Regents’ meeting, no matter how the question was phrased, speculated on a specific dollar goal. That will be determined in the coming year, the second advance planning year that will provide guidance for a five-year campaign.

  • Gifts to the University are at the highest level ever, Feagin noted, presenting a graphic showing almost steady, significant increases in outright gifts from 1980 ($24 million) to the $230 million raised this past year. The best three years, on an annual basis, have been the period since the 1997 close of the most recent campaign. The per-year average for those years is $196 million.

  • There has been “a dramatic shift” in the role of gifts from individuals, accounting for almost 70 percent of gifts last year. Gifts from individuals in 2000 totaled $158,652,633. Gifts from corporations, foundations and associations totaled $71,952,650.

  • One of the most encouraging trends, Feagin noted, is the increase in the number of donors, which surpassed $100,000 in FY1999. This signals good potential for a significant campaign.

  • Private gifts have made the U-M one of the nation’s top public universities in fundraising. The U-M was fourth nationally among public universities in 1996–97 (12th overall), and again in 1997–98 (15th overall). In 1998-99 the University was sixth among publics (17th overall). Source: Council for Aid to Education: Voluntary Support of Education Reports, 1997, 1998, 1999.

    The bottom of these lists, Feagin noted, shows that other public institutions are “getting into fundraising in a much bigger way, some with strong, aggressive campaigns that have enabled them to attract top students and faculty.”

  • The U-M continues to rank high in alumni support, both overall and among publics —first among publics in 1996–97 and 1997–98 (sixth and seventh overall, respectively) and third among publics and 10th overall in 1998–99.

    “We always have done very well overall. The most promising source of growth is among our alumni,” Feagin said.

  • Future bequests have and continue to be a very important source of gifts, with $314 million in bequest intentions coming during the last campaign. “We know that there is a significant amount in wills, but we don’t know the numbers,” she said. “If I were to guess, I’d say it’s two-to-three times greater than what we know about.”

  • Large gifts continue to be of central importance. Final numbers from the 1990–97 campaign show 250,284 gifts up to $1 million (46 percent of total), 122 gifts of $1 million to $2.49 million (16 percent), 37 gifts of $2.5 million-$4.99 million (11 percent) and 28 gifts of $5 million or more (27 percent).

    Feagin also detailed the preliminary timeline for the campaign, noting that the University is in what traditionally is referred to as the “quiet phase” (advance planning in identifying priorities and case development) with no specifics announced.

    Activities under way, some of which will continue after a formal launch, also include testing the “feasibility and persuasiveness of proposed priorities,” identifying potential donors through a program titled “Networking for Michigan,” identifying core funding/leadership gifts and increases in internal development staff, and determining the campaign infrastructure.

    The University began counting gifts as campaign-related July 1. Specific goal-setting will begin next summer and continue through July 2002.