Sep 222009
 
Authors: Madeline Novey

Nearly a month after CSU announced a lofty capital fundraising campaign –/which university official hope will bring $500 million to the university by 2012 –/on Aug. 29, almost $1.18 million more has come in from private donors.

Brad Bohlander, CSU’s chief spokesperson, said the amount is likely a result of the recent publicity.

CSU markets the campaign via a myriad of mediums, including T-shirts reading “I AM CSU” on the front and “The Campaign for Colorado State University” on the back and in a 30-second spot at home football games on the in-stadium board.

In connection with the campaign’s increased visibility, after the university announced the ongoing 4-year-old campaign, Bohlander said there has been an influx of donors.

“The buzz generated by announcing the campaign gets alumni going,” Bohlander said Tuesday.

Before Aug. 29, CSU had raised nearly $290 million, including a $30 million donation from wealthy alumnus Ed Warner to the university’s natural resources college, which is named after Warner. Any money given to the campaign is allocated to the university area of the donor’s choice.

But the economic downturn,/which ultimately led to severe cuts to the state budget and resulted in a $13.1 million shortfall for CSU, is a challenge to this campaign because fewer people have money to give, university officials said.

CU-Boulder’s fundraising also took a hit during the recession, seeing its fiscal year donation totals drop from $162.5 million to $134.5 million in FY08 and FY09, respectively, CU spokesperson Ken McConnellogue told the Collegian Monday.

Unsure of its fundraising goal for this year, because fiscal year 2010 is just more than two months underway, McConnellogue said CU expects its total donations “will be down” as a result of the bad economy.

“. I don’t think the academic climate has anything to do with it,” he said. “We have to make the case to our constituents to why they should invest in us. This is just part in parcel what we do.”

The good news is that CSU has seen more people donating smaller gifts, which ultimately builds a support network, said CSU President Tony Frank.

“Engaging people helps build the pipeline for future years,” Frank said Tuesday.

When asked if he was confident the campaign could garner the $500 million over the next three years, Frank said, “It’s a stretch, but we’re going to do everything we can to get there.”

Looking at the numbers from years past, Frank said the university averaged “in the $70 million range” for annual donations, saying that if CSU achieved a “10 to 20 percent increase” over that average, “we can get there (to the $500 million mark).”

He added that he would rather CSU have a “very high goal that we almost attain,” than a “mediocre” one.

The process of fundraising is based on building relations between development directors from the academic colleges, members of Advancement for Strategic Initiatives, the CSU president and chancellor and the greater community, Bohlander said.

“It’s a continual effort of meetings, of cultivating relationships,” he said, adding, “A part of it is widening the base of giving for an institution.”

Another deep-seeded challenge, Frank said the campaign faces, is the “mass production approach” or “economy of scale” model — that is characterized by large class sizes and a less intimate connection to the university. Public higher education institutions, including CSU, have fallen into this mode as a result of dwindling state funds.

The intimate university-student connection is a characteristic of Ivy League schools and is something that Frank said CSU “won’t see for probably a decade.”

Alumni have connected with CSU, Frank said, and it is people like them who give back to the university.

News Managing Editor Madeline Novey can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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