Alumni donations hit $17.5 mil in 07-08
January 30, 2009 9:03 PM
The donations for SF State from alumni and friends have doubled over the last three years, according to the 2007-08 CSU Annual Report on External Support.
The department of university advancement at SF State reported $17.5 million in gift commitments from about 6,000 different individual donors, a 48 percent increase from the 2005-06 fiscal year. The CSU raised $441 million in donations, a new record for the 23-campus system.
"Basically as the state's budget crisis deepens, it becomes clear that we need to do more on our own," said Lee Blitch, the vice president for university advancement at SF State. "So three years ago the university decided to beef up the alumni outreach program."
In response to California's budget cuts, SF State developed an active alumni relations effort. Donna Blakemore, associate vice president of university advancement, turned to RuffaloCODY, a strategic fundraising and enrollment management service, to operate the alumni outreach program.
RuffaloCODY uses phone banking and e-mail services to contact SF State alumni around the world.
"With phone banking we see about a 26 percent success rate," said Heather McMurrin, RuffaloCody program manager at SF State. "We send out about one e-mail per month."
The number of alumni donors has quadrupled over the past three years, jumping from 1,130 in 2005 to 4,487 in 2008, according to SF State university advancement analysis.
"Now we call everybody that we have contact information for, and we've been expanding our e-mail contacts," Blakemore said. "We started out in 2005 with less than 10,000 contacts; now we're at 60,000."
Alumni accounted for $3.6 million of the donations received, while foundations and corporations contributed another $5.2 million.
"We try to match the need of the university with the interest of the donor, but almost all of it comes in as a directed donation," Blitch said.
The money donated to CSU was given with specific directions. Of the total $441 million received by CSU, $135.5 million is to be allocated according to the donors' wishes. Contributors requested that $42 million be spent for academic programs, $24 million for public service programs, $19 million for student scholarships and $24 million to meet any other university needs, according to the report.
"It should be going straight to the classes necessary for students to graduate," said Trent Downes, a 22-year-old business major at SF State. "Of course they should respect the donors' wishes, but sometimes they're a little out of touch."
The affects of the budget cuts are felt all across campus as students of almost every discipline are turned away from the classes they need to graduate.
"I can't get any of the classes that I needed," said John Totten, a junior economics major.
Students are also at risk of losing financial aid without the minimum number of units needed for full-time students.
"My advisor told me to start looking for 'filler classes' so I wouldn't lose my financial support," Totten said.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's budget plans for 2009-10 include a 10 percent increase in student fees for all CSU students, creating about $130 million in revenue. With one-third of that being set aside for financial aid and $84.4 million for operating costs, the CSU will still be $15.8 million short.
"Clearly, there is something fundamentally wrong with the system," Downes said. "They've been increasing the fees ever since I got here."
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