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Salem gears for drive

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By Todd Cohen

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Salem Academy and College are preparing for a capital campaign that could total $50 million.

Five years after completing a campaign that raised $25 million – exceeding its goal by $5 million – Salem is working with Chicago consultant Grenzebach Glier & Associates to assess prospects for the new campaign.

“Preliminary feedback indicates positive response to our having a campaign,” says Annette Patterson, who last December joined Salem as vice president for institutional advancement after serving as director of development at Stetson University in DeLand, Fla., for a campaign that raised $235 million. “It will be our job to motivate our potential donors based on the case we make for their support.”

Noting that the school last spring received its first $1 million gift ever from a living individual, Patterson says Salem needs to raise the sights of prospective donors “so that every single person who has the potential to give $1 million is thinking about a million.”

That will require careful and thorough cultivation, she says.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do to build the relationships,” she says. “If we move too quickly, they won’t give at the level at which they could give.”

The campaign, which will kick off its public phase in December 2004, already has begun its quiet phase.

To help lay the groundwork, Salem President Julianne Still Thrift since March has hosted seven dinners with groups of 20 top prospects each in North Carolina and in Atlanta, New York and Washington, D.C.

Research so far has found strong support for strengthening three academic “centers of excellence” — for women writers, for science and math, and for business and economics — and for increasing the school’s $52 million endowment.

If the goal is $50 million, $10 million would be raised in annual gifts through 2006, $15 million would boost the endowment and $25 million would support priorities such as construction, programs, faculty and scholarships, possibly with additional endowment funds.

One-fifth of the goal will support Salem Academy, with 225 students, 55 percent of them residential, and the remainder would support the college, with 1,100 students, 400 of them enrolled in continuing studies.

Estate gifts will generate roughly 30 percent of the campaign.

“Because Salem is a women’s institution, we find very often that women elect to give their major gifts through their estate plans,” Patterson says. “Our alumnae and their spouses also recognize how much further their gifts go at Salem than at other institutions because through the years we have learned to stretch every resource.”

Salem’s fundraising office has added five positions, including a major gifts officer for the academy, bringing its staff to 19 people.

“Salem has a constituency that holds this place in high regard,” Patterson says, “but we have to do our job to set the vision, set the pace and set the priorities that are going to transform Salem.”   

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