University donors step up, set private giving record
University of South Carolina donors who include alumni, staff, students, faculty, friends, corporations, and foundations rallied strongly to support the University’s fund-raising effort in 2008-09, resulting in a new private giving record of $107.5 million.
Funds were raised between July 1, 2008, and June 30, 2009. The number of donors also rose to an all-time high of 46,469. Nationally, charitable giving to education dropped about 6 percent in 2008, the steepest decline since 1956, according to The Chronicle of Philanthropy.
The new fund-raising total follows closely in the footsteps of the University's previous private giving record of $106.2 million for 2007-08. Unprecedented private support in consecutive years shows that despite a major recession, donors value the University’s ability to provide world-class education for students on its eight campuses.
The $107.5 million benchmark included significant increases in program enhancements that fund research and outreach, and continuing trends showing yearly increases in first-time donors and online gifts. Donor support is used to endow scholarships, fellowships, endowed chairs, and professorships; to enhance programs by providing gifts such as technological improvements; to fund new academic facilities and programs; and for many other purposes. Private giving allows universities to continue their development and growth during a period of decreased federal and state funding.
"This level of support from South Carolina’s alumni and friends is a true measure of the esteem and loyalty they hold for our institution,” said University President Harris Pastides. “I am especially gratified that in the midst of the most difficult economic downturn in decades, the University’s friends have stepped up and supported the University’s core mission of teaching, research, and outreach on every campus. This speaks volumes about the bedrock foundation we have to build upon for Carolina’s future.”
The 2008-09 fund-raising year for the University brings to mind how baseball fans turn their caps inside out to rally their teams down the stretch, said Michelle Dodenhoff, the University's interim vice president for advancement. For the University, donors elevated their support in the “late innings” of the fund-raising year, she said. Included was a successful push by Darla Moore School of Business donors to exceed school benefactor Darla Moore’s challenge of matching her $45 million commitment to the school. The Moore School match began in 2004 and ended Aug. 3.
“We entered the recently completed fiscal year at the economy’s worst point in recent history,” said Dodenhoff, who presented her fund-raising report to the University Board of Trustees. “While we needed to overcome a slow start and were a bit concerned about how we would raise private funds in this very challenging economic climate, at the end of the day, our donors rallied behind this great University. Our generous donors are realizing, now more than ever, how critical their support is to our students and faculty.”
Donors hear clarion call for private support, respond to the president’s invitation to give
Donors recognize and acknowledge the reach, relevance, and impact that the University of South Carolina is having on the state, region, and world, Dodenhoff said, adding, “The excitement and enthusiasm generated by President Pastides has resulted in the successful articulation of a vision that is resonating with our donors.”
Alumnus Matthew Heric, who earned a master's degree in geography in 1987, said an e-mail appeal for support from President Pastides made the timing right for a major gift. Heric is president and CEO of Durham, N.C.-based IAVO Research and Scientific, which donated 400 geospatial software licenses to the University, valued at $6.8 million. The gift will enhance research opportunities for more than 250 students and faculty, and is to be shared between the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Geography and the Darla Moore School of Business. A five-year service maintenance agreement elevates the GeoGenesis software value to more than $12 million. Nearly every sector of the U.S. economy is using GIS technology, from determining optimal locations for new subdivisions to predicting the relationship between localized air pollution and public health.
“One of the most significant gifts a corporation of means can bestow upon a University involves ever-evolving virtual technology designated for student and faculty research,” Heric said. “At IAVO Research and Scientific, we believe our commitment to providing a large donation of geospatial software licenses to the University of South Carolina is an investment toward a successful future. As a proud alumnus of the University, I am excited to give back to society through this donation.”
“For many users of GIS and fundamental image processing, the GeoGenesis software will be beneficial for their applied research,” said College of Arts and Sciences Dean Mary Anne Fitzpatrick. In addition to the Columbia campus, students and faculty on the Upstate, Sumter and Aiken campuses will have access to IAVO’s geospatial software.
Inside the numbers: Breaking down the private giving year by funding types, designations
The $107.5 million fundraising total for 2008-09 includes $23.2 million in athletic-related gifts, a 9 percent increase, and $13.7 million from gifts in kind, a major increase of 51 percent. Thirteen gifts totaled $1 million or more. The number of donors making gifts of $100,000 or more was 103, representing 66 percent of the total. Gifts by type were: pledges, $37.7 million; cash, $33.4 million; research grants, $14.7 million; gifts in kind, $13.7 million; and planned gifts, $8 million.
By donor type, companies contributed $51 million, or 47 percent of the total. Other major donors by type were:
• alumni, $23.8 million
• foundations, $15.2 million
• non-alumni, $12 million
• organizations, $2.5 million
• faculty and staff, $1.6 million
• parents, $1.3 million
• students, $47,300
Faculty and staff giving, when combined with retirees from the University, set an all-time high in Annual Fund gifts for the Family Fund: $3.6 million, the highest total in the campaign’s 33 years. Online giving jumped 71 percent to $1.1 million, while the number of first-time donors increased 11 percent to 8,319.
Program enhancements, or gifts related to research and outreach, led private giving by designation with a 66 percent increase to $74.4 million. Other gifts by designation were: $22.9 million toward student support (scholarships, assistantships, fellowships, etc.); $5.8 million toward capital projects; $4.1 million in unrestricted gifts; and $300,000 toward faculty support (endowed professorships, chairs, etc.)
Why they give: A passion to improve society and “pay back, pay forward”
Alumnus Michael Bond, who earned an accounting degree in 1977 and is a successful New York City corporate attorney, became the newest donor to endow a Carolina Scholar award through his gift of $250,000. Originally from Seneca, S.C., where his parents still reside, Bond named the award in their honor: the William H. and Ruth C. Bond Scholarship. A deserving student will receive the scholarship this academic year. Carolina Scholar recipients enter Carolina with the highest college entrance examination scores and academic standings from their respective high schools, and are automatically accepted into the Honors College.
“The point I would like to make is that the state of South Carolina, and the University of South Carolina, have given me a great opportunity to achieve what I’m accomplishing in my life,” Bond said. “This gift is a chance to give back by providing a blessing to others, my parents, and highly deserving students.”
More than 100 students are expected to enter the University this fall through opportunity provided by the Gamecock Guarantee. In its second year, the Gamecock Guarantee ensures that students with the classroom ability to attend South Carolina -- but with limited ability to pay -- will receive a University education. While the Southeastern Conference contract with ESPN and the University’s General Scholarship Funds pay for the Gamecock Guarantee, a small but determined group of donors put their private support behind it.
“When Carolina makes a financial commitment to ensure that all students with academic promise can attend this great University, including those who face significant economic challenges, that is something I wholeheartedly support,” said Stacey Bradley, associate vice president for the Division of Student Affairs and Department of Academic Support. “The reason I give to the Gamecock Guarantee is its ability to provide a University of South Carolina education to students who otherwise could not afford it.”
Tom and Sherrill Hall of Anderson, S.C., provided a significant bequest to the Darla Moore School of Business as part of the Moore School match effort. The Halls firmly believe that the University provided the educations that led to professional success, and that is why they give back. Tom, a 1969 business graduate, became a successful banker, while Sherrill, who earned a degree in psychology in 1968, enjoyed a long career as an elementary gifted program teacher. In addition to their bequest, they also provide the University with a scholarship for Anderson County students; give to charitable causes through a donor-advised fund; and contribute to the Dean’s Circle at the Darla Moore School of Business.
“We realize now more than ever just how valuable our educations were at Carolina,” Sherrill said. “We are very proud of the accomplishments at the Darla Moore School of Business and how it has grown, just as we are proud of the University’s accomplishments overall. Our efforts to give back to the University also give us a way to stay involved.”
Concerned that young journalists need to amplify their abilities to cover business news including the financial markets, 1949 journalism graduate Ken Baldwin created the Baldwin Business and Financial Journalism Endowment Fund for just that purpose. The $500,000 gift benefits the School of Journalism and Mass Communications by funding research initiatives, symposia, visiting lecturers, and other endeavors. Baldwin, who was a reporter early in his career but spent most of it as a personnel manager with Landmark Communications, said the University gave him the core skills from which to build a profession.
“What I learned from English Professor Havilah Babcock, I have used throughout my life,” Baldwin said. “I’ve been very blessed, in particular by the growth and success of Landmark and The Weather Channel. Journalists today need business savvy and must have the tenacity to ask the right questions and dig deeper in filling their watchdog role.”