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Apprentice to an Ivy – Public universities get focused

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Like many public universities whose fundraising is becoming more

strategic, California State University fundraisers are learning to market their institution to corporations and wealthy alumni for bigger results, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Cal State University at Northridge, which just kicked off its first year-long, $10 million fundraising campaign, wants to learn from fundraising veterans like Yale University while highlighting its differences from such prestigious schools.

Only 41 years old, California State University serves recent immigrants and first-generation students who depend on student loans and part time jobs, the Times says.

“We have to tell people what our student body overcame and what they’ve contributed back into their communities,” told the Times. “We’re the economic engine of this state,” says Chancellor Charles B. Reed.

The 23-campus system has raised $1.4 billion since 1990, making it the most successful fundraiser among large public master’s universities that emphasize teaching and access over research and prestige.

With nearly 40 percent of university contributions coming from alumni, the university makes alumni outreach a top priority.

And in the current economic boom, development officers develop strategy like advertising executives, depending on retail models and niche marketing for success. 

Contributions to higher education throughout the U.S. have almost doubled from $9.8 billion in 1990 to $18.4 billion in 1998, the Times says.

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