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Elon launches $100M fundraising campaign

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Todd Cohen

ELON, N.C. — Elon University has kicked off the public phase of a comprehensive campaign to raise $100 million

Chaired by Mark Mahaffey, chairman of The Mahaffey Company in St. Petersburg, Fla., the campaign has raised nearly $54 million during a quiet phase that began in 2006.

Funds from the campaign will be used to build the university’s endowment, which was valued at $86.5 million on May 31, to support student scholarships, faculty, learning programs, campus preservation and emerging opportunities.

A key goal of the campaign is to add $70 million to the school’s endowment, which totaled $67 million when the quiet phase began, says Nan Perkins, who is retiring as vice president for university advancement after 32 years at Elon.

In the past year alone, the campaign generated $9 million for the endowment in outright gifts and pledge payments, she says.

Alumni and parents, many of them making up most of the membership of volunteer boards at Elon, have been a main focus of fundraising during the quiet phase, Perkins says.

Elon says its endowment is “a fraction of the size of most of its peer institutions,” or roughly one-sixth of Furman University’s endowment and one-twelfth of Wake Forest University’s endowment.

A key focus of the campaign will be planned gifts, or those that are complex or deferred or involve assets other than cash such as stock or real estate.

“Elon does not have a large planned-gift pipeline,” Perkins says.

Planned gifts represent just over $11 million of the total raised so far and could total 25 percent to 30 percent of funds raised in the campaign, she says.

The campaign also has seen a boost in annual giving, which totaled just over $10 million in the first two years of the campaign, or half the total the school expected to raise over five years.

Annual giving has grown from $1.4 million in 2000.

The campaign already has received 14 individual gifts and pledges valued at over $1 million each, including a $5 million contribution that is the largest ever for Elon.

That gift, from Furman C. Moseley, a 1956 alumnus in Seattle, endows scholarships for young women and honors his wife, Susan Reed Moseley.

Perkins says a big fundraising challenge for the school is its “extremely young alumni base.”
Of Elon’s roughly 23,000 alumni, 46 percent graduated in the last 10 years and nearly 60 percent are under age 40.

“These alumni have not made their fortunes,” Perkins says. “They are not in a position to make major gifts.”

James B. Piatt Jr., who is vice president for college advancement at Mount Union College in Alliance, Ohio, and will succeed Perkins on Nov. 1, says turmoil in the capital markets represents an immediate fundraising challenge for the school.

“Philanthropic confidence follows market confidence,” he says, “and I don’t think there’s anyone who has confidence in the financial markets right now.”

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