N.C. Central gearing for drive

Randal Childs
Randal Childs

Todd Cohen

DURHAM, N.C. — Developing major gifts and planned gifts, and getting more alumni to give, are key strategies at N.C. Central University in Durham as the historically black school prepares for a campaign to raise $50 million by 2012.

NCCU aims to raise half the total by 2010 in a quiet phase of the campaign, which already has begun, is recruiting volunteer leaders to spearhead the campaign, and hopes eventually to fill jobs on its fundraising staff.

The school will use funds from the campaign to support scholarships and global opportunities for students, attract and retain faculty, and boost “readiness and outreach” efforts to create a pipeline of prospective students graduating from high school or transferring from other colleges and universities.

An earlier campaign in the 1990s raised $26 million.

The new campaign, based on a feasibility study conducted in 2006 by Carol O’Brien Associates in Durham, will build on successful efforts in recent years to strengthen the school’s fundraising operations, says Randal V. Childs, director of major gifts.

With 24,000 alumni for whom it has good addresses, for example, the percentage of alumni participating in the school’s annual fund has grown in five years to 12 percent from 5 percent, Childs says.

One goal of the campaign, he says, will be to increase annual giving to $1.5 million from between $850,000 and $980,000 in recent years.

“Where we have begun to excel is seeking major gifts and planned gifts and planned commitments that help increase the overall fundraising,” Childs says.

Planned gifts are those that are deferred or complex or involve assets other than cash, such as securities, real estate or art. Major gifts are those that are $25,000 or more.

In the past four years, the estimated value of planned gifts the school expects to receive has increased $3 million to $3.5 million for an estimated total of $10 million to $12 million.

While insurance policies were the main vehicle for planned gifts its donors made in the 1990s, Childs says, NCCU now is promoting planned giving more actively and strategically.

That effort now includes the use of brochures and a special section on the school’s website designed to educate visitors about the options available for making planned gifts.

While the campaign will focus on securing cash gifts, planned giving will be a strategy in raising money for the NCCU Endowment, which currently has assets of $28 million.

Also key to the campaign will be boosting major gifts by cultivating alumni and other donors the school has identified in its database as having the potential to give more, Childs says.

The alumni-relations office at NCCU also will be looking for ways to strengthen giving to the annual fund, and the development office will be looking for ways to engage “friends” and the community and foster gifts.

Improving prospect research was the focus of assistance the school has received with support from the UNC System that included screening NCCU’s database of alumni and donors.

NCCU currently is searching for a vice chancellor for institutional advancement, a director and associate director of annual giving, and an additional major gifts officer, although the school recently set a hiring freeze on most positions.

Critical to the campaign will be “lead” gifts of $5 million to $10 million each, along with major gifts from corporations and foundations, Childs says.

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