Though the recession has affected foundations, corporations and alumni alike, donors continue to invest in the University of Colorado. Total dollars raised are down but the number of donors has increased over last fiscal year. Alumni donors are up 4.4 percent (to 22,645), suggesting that even in the midst of an economic crunch, the value of an investment in the university remains strong.
The Colorado Health Foundation's recent $2 million gift to the Colorado School of Public Health, a collaboration among UC Denver, the University of Northern Colorado and Colorado State University, will push donations to more than $89 million for the fiscal year. Currently, the total is 18 percent behind last year at this point. However, the results to date mark the third-best year in the foundation's history for dollars raised.
"The area that has had the biggest decline is in what we call mega gifts, those over $5 million," said CU Foundation president and CEO Wayne Hutchens. "Last year our top three gifts totaled $34.5 million, compared to $15.5 million this year. It's tough to keep pace without those mega gifts. In fact, if you don't include them, donations are up versus last year. That's a strong endorsement of the university's value to donors."
Foundation development officers have been working with campus leadership to develop goals and strategies for next fiscal year, which begins July 1.
"We're focused on staying close to our donors and we've developed strategies for every one of our top prospects," Hutchens said. "It's more important than ever to be visible and continually reinforcing the return on investment that gifts to CU provide."
Hutchens and Connie Graham, vice president of development, have made visits to 12 of the major Colorado foundations that support CU.
"These meetings have been very productive. The foundation community's leadership appreciates our outreach and updates on what we're doing to cope with the economic downturn," Hutchens said. "One foundation even suggested that we submit a proposal before year-end after initially indicating that there would be little likelihood of grant awards next year. It's been a valuable effort."
Foundation officials are setting their sights higher, with a goal of raising $120 million for next fiscal year. They are optimistic about securing several gifts in the transformational category ($5 million or more), based on plans developed in coordination with the chancellor and deans on each campus.
"There's no doubt we have our work cut out for us," said Hutchens. "But we have a top-notch staff and our academic partners are teaming up with us hand-in-glove. We're ready to hit the ground running."