Cash-Strapped SF State Mines Private Donors
Office of University Development raised $14.5 mil in 2002-03
February 19, 2004 5:52 PM
The budget scare is on everyone’s mind, but a small team at SF State’s Office of University Development is focused more on raising money than worrying about how to survive with less.
The development office is constantly raising private dollars for SF State, and by focusing on alumni, friends of the university, corporations and foundations, they raised $14.5 million during 2002-2003.
Most of the money -- approximately 97 percent -- is distributed according to the donor’s wishes. Last year, this translated to $8.8 million, or 61 percent, being spent on the library and academic and athletic programs.
Those at the development office are not working to replace the loss of state dollars but to provide benefits that would not be possible any other way. They are ensuring the integrity of some student's education will remain intact.
“What we’re trying to do is build the strength of the institution beyond what the State can provide,” said Jim Collier, vice president of University Advancement.
Contribution in kind is also a common type of donation. This is when an individual or a company gives equipment that can be of use in a particular department, such as an electron microscope in the science department, said Dean Sheldon Axler of the College of Science and Engineering.
Gifts are usually designated for a specific college, or department. The needs of each college within the university are unique. Therefore, collaboration between each college and the office of development is a key part of the fundraising process, Hayashino said.
Tomas Almaguer, dean of the College of Ethnic Studies, said they do an assessment of what is needed in terms of additional resources to move the college forward and collaborate with the development office to try and make that happen. He cited the desire to generate enough money to hire a full-time faculty member as an endowed chair, with the person’s salary and research paid for.
“It is a way of recruiting a very stellar person of national or international renown…it’s an enriching sort of thing,” Almaguer said.
Each college dean develops a method of determining needs that require outside funding. For example, Axler holds weekly meetings with a team created for this specific purpose. The team focuses on fine-tuning the needs expressed by each department chair; they figure out exactly whom they should ask for donations and where they should put the gifts once received; and they meet with past donors to cultivate their relationships.
The fundraising efforts require constant work. Fundraisers are constantly in various stages of the process. At one moment they will be working with a variety of donors, while working simultaneously at all their designated stages of fundraising, Hayashino said.
The fundraising process within the office of university development begins with research, which enables them to identify potential gift givers. At this stage, fundraisers determine the donors projected wealth and level of interest with the university, Collier said.
Fundraisers then ask if they might be interested in investing with SF State and reading a proposal letter. Collier said this stage frequently goes on for quite some time.
Potential donors then meet with fundraisers to discuss the proposal; for the most part, this is when the amount of money being requested is revealed. Donors usually give their gifts during this meeting and the money is then deposited into the account of the SFSU Foundation, which distributes the money, Collier said.
The final stage of fundraising is the cultivation of the relationships with the donors. Collier said the Office of University Development lets donors know exactly how their money was used and the amount of interest it gained. They invite donors to events, and scholarship recipients write letters of appreciation for the contribution to their education.
Many factors contribute to the amount people, corporations, and foundations can donate. Hayashino said staffing levels and creativity contribute to the amount of money that is raised, but there are also factors outside of fundraisers control, such as the economy. The fact that SF State is in an urban environment with many other universities surrounding it also affects the amount of money the office of development can raise.
During the fiscal year of 2002-2003 in which SF State raised $14.5 million, San Diego State raised $60.9 million, a January 22 California State University press release revealed.
Collier said this is partly due to the fact that San Diego State has been fundraising for a long time and fundraising for SF State is relatively new. The amount of money raised depends on the amount of time spent in the business of aggressively raising money, he said.
The culture of the university and the surrounding community is another factor that determines the amount of money that can be raised. San Diego State has a football team that generates a lot of support, and they also have a public radio station. They have branched out into the community in ways that SF State has not, Hayashino said.
Nancy Smith, assistant of the vice president of San Diego State's Office of University Advancement, said San Diego State has been active in fundraising since the mid-1980s.
In 1996, when Collier first stepped onto the scene and reorganized the Office of University Development, SF State only raised $3 million, he said. Hayashino said SF State’s development office has steadily increased the amount of money raised since then.
Despite the high number of colleges in the Bay Area, not all people with close ties to other universities decide it is not worthwhile to give to SF State.
One donor, who wishes to remain anonymous and gave $1,000 or more last year, donates to the department of Judaic Studies at SF State even though she is on the Advisory Board of Judaic Studies at Stanford University.
“Stanford is doing well,” she said, “I felt the need was greater at San Francisco State.”
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