Continuous fundraising

By Todd Cohen

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Expecting to exceed the $100 million goal for its biggest-ever capital campaign by up to $20 million, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte soon will start planning a new campaign that could begin in three years and total at least $300 million.

While the school will hire a consultant to conduct a feasibility study on a goal for the new campaign, says Tom Martz, vice chancellor for development and university relations, “I seriously think we’re going to have to look at a minimum of a $300 million campaign.”

Starting with a quiet phase launched in July 1998 and a public phase that kicked off in February 2002 after $40 million had been raised, the campaign has raised $98.6 million and likely will raise another $10 million to $20 million, Martz says.

That could include two to three more gifts of more than $1 million each, and several hundred gifts below $1,000 each, says Laura Simic, associate vice chancellor for development.

Reflecting the pattern for many university campaigns, she says, the drive has received 90 percent of its dollars from 10 percent of its donors, including three gifts of roughly $10 million each, two of roughly $5 million each, two of roughly $2 million, and 13 of roughly $1 million.

Deferred or planned gifts, not counted officially as part of the campaign, total another $5 million, Simic says.

While a strapped state budget in recent years left UNCC without funds it had wanted to pay for long-distance travel to visit donors and for back-office operations, the campaign did help boost fundraising efforts at the school, Martz says.

The annual fund has grown to more than $400,000 from roughly $200,000 when the quiet phase began, for example, while expectations for private fundraising have grown, as has participation of volunteers, deans and other administrators in fundraising, Martz says.

Before the campaign, he says, fundraising at UNCC was highly centralized, with the development office soliciting funds and gifts mainly through the annual fund, and mainly for unrestricted purposes.

Recently, however, the development office has hired major gifts officers for the colleges of arts and sciences, engineering and business, and soon will hire major gift officers for the schools of architecture, education, and health and human services.

Fundraising efforts also are making greater use of technology, including a website that accepts online donations, an email newsletter that keeps annual-fund donors informed about the impact of their giving, and email reminders that have increased by 13.2 percent the rate at which individuals making pledges during the school’s phone-a-thons fulfill those pledges.

The next drive for the first time will count privately-funded research grants, which total roughly $4 million a year.

As it gets a new chancellor this spring and begins a three-year effort to identify future needs, gearing up to become a major research university like Duke and UNC-Chapel Hill, Martz says, UNCC also needs to ratchet up its fundraising.

“A lot of universities are now doing continuous campaigns,” he says. “We are moving into the realm of needing to play at that major research level.”

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