Meredith campaign boosts endowment

By Todd Cohen

RALEIGH, N.C — With less than two months left in its campaign to raise $33.5 million, the school has raised over $38 million.

Including funds generated by the campaign and from income on investments, Meredith’s endowment grew to $78.5 million as of Dec. 31, 2006, up from $55.8 million when the fundraising effort began its quiet phase on July 1, 2001.

The goal for the campaign, which ends June 30, was to raise $23.95 million for endowment and $9.55 million for current operations.

So far, the campaign has raised $20 million for 90 new scholarships and seven new funds to support student travel abroad.

A grassroots initiative developed by alumnae, for example, has raised $3.8 million for the new “Alumnae Legacy Scholarship Endowment,” exceeding the effort’s initial goal by $800,000.

Launching that initiative, which is designed to fill a void in “full-ride” scholarships at the school and requires gifts of at least $50,000, were Elizabeth Triplett Beam, a 1972 Meredith alumna who is choir director at St. Mary’s School in Raleigh, and Ione Knight, a 1942 alumna and retired English professor at Meredith.

That fundraising effort also has “set the tone for how volunteers can be effective in fundraising for the college,” says Connie Harris, vice president for institutional advancement.

The goal for the Alumnae Legacy Scholarship Endowment is to raise at least $12 million to fund four Alumnae Legacy scholars per class each year, Harris says.

“That will be a continuing effort,” she says.

The campaign overall has received $11 million in deferred gifts, including two totaling over $2 million each.

The campaign, advised by Carol O’Brien and Associates in Durham, also has helped boost Meredith’s annual fund, which is expected to raise at least $720,000 in this school year, up from over $574,000 in the campaign’s first year.

While the annual fund has grown, however, the percentage of alumnae who give has declined to 21 percent in the fiscal year ended last June 30 from 24.5 percent in the fiscal year that began July 1, 2001, Harris says.

This year, the annual fund aims to increase the participation rate to 23 percent, Harris says.

“We are part of that national trend of more money and larger gifts coming from fewer donors,” she says.

Many women prefer to make gifts to particular programs, Harris says, while annual funds focus on gifts that are not restricted to particular programs, she says.

And with the size of the graduating class growing each year, and technology making it easier to track that growing alumnae pool, she says, it becomes increasingly challenging to maintain and increase the participation rate.

That is particularly important, she says, because Meredith expects its annual fund to grow each year by at least 5 percent, compared to 3 percent to 4 percent for many colleges.

Overall, the annual fund has generated over $4.6 million for the campaign, exceeding its goal by over $300,000.

“We have to do more education so people can understand the importance of giving each year,” Harris says, “and moderately increasing that support.”

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