WSSU gears for drive

By Todd Cohen

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Winston-Salem State University, which completed a $25 million capital campaign in 1995, has begun the quiet phase of a new campaign that could total $35 million.

To prepare, the school has worked to boost its fundraising strategy, donor base and staff.

In a study last summer commissioned, Minneapolis-based consultant Bentz Whaley Flessner found WSSU had overcome financial difficulties and built strong community support, says Arthur G. Affleck III, vice chancellor for university advancement.

But the consultant also said the school lacked a consistent tradition of giving from alumni and friends, a consistent process to keep donors involved, and a planned giving program.

So Affleck, who joined WSSU three years ago after serving as vice president for development and alumni affairs at Tuskeegee University, has worked to expand the school’s donor base, cultivate donors and develop planned gifts.

WSSU also has increased its development staff to 16 from 7 three years ago, and is launching a Web site for development and alumni affairs.

To increase alumni giving, the school revived its twice-a-year alumni magazine and its alumni telethon.

And Affleck and WSSU Chancellor Harold L. Martin Sr. have visited alumni throughout North Carolina, and in Atlanta and the Washington-Baltimore and New York-New Jersey areas.

The number of alumni donors is expected to total nearly 1,200 in the year ending June 30, up from 229 three years ago, while alumni giving has grown to more than $170,000 from $107,000 two years ago.

“It makes a difference when they can see the university leader and he can share his goals,” Affleck says.

To better communicate with alumni, the school is collecting email addresses, which it lacks for roughly three in four of the 9,500 alumni for whom it has some contact information.

WSSU last year created a “Heritage Society” for donors pledging at least $10,000 in deferred or planned gifts using charitable trusts, bequests and insurance policies.

The effort has generated more than 20 commitments, says Affleck, who wants planned gifts to grow by at least 20 percent a year.

He also aims to boost the annual fund, which will exceed $2 million for the year ending June 30, to $3 million next year and to $4 million to $5 million during the campaign.

Big priorities are to generate about $14 million for scholarships and at least double the school’s $11 million endowment, which is down about $2 million from two years ago because of the slumping stock market.

A driving force in the campaign, Affleck says, is the school’s effort to “build our programs so we can play an increasingly larger role in the economic development of the city and region,” including participation in the emerging Piedmont-Triad Research Park.

The Council for Advancement and Support of Education this month honored WSSU with a CASE/Wealth ID Award for overall improvement in educational fundraising.

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