Campus / News / November 9, 2011

Overall fundraising down, year-to-date

The necessity of fundraising is nowhere more apparent than at Knox College.

The college, which draws from parents and over 160,000 alumni, is unable to function without donations after only a few months of running on student tuition

Every year, a large portion of time and energy from the Advancement Department to the President’s Office and many students in between help keep the college running through strong fundraising efforts.

So where do the fundraising numbers stack up this year compared to previous years?

The Knox Fund has seen an improvement on the year-to-date figures due in part to a strong student calling program, excitement about the 175th anniversary and the arrival of a new president.

The overall Knox Fund is at $810,624 so far this year. That is up from last year’s $800,246 at this point.

Much of the Knox Fund comes from the student calling program. The success of the program comes from the ability of the students to connect and engage the alumni and parents who are called, Vice President of Advancement Beverly Holmes believes.

“The longer you keep the person on the phone and the more you engage them, the more chance you have of getting a gift,” Holmes said.

The student calling program – previously known as the Phonathon – brings in around 20 percent of the operating gifts given to the college.

The program raised $455,328, which was short from the 2010 fall total, but was up significantly from the years 2007 through 2009. The average donor during the student calling program gave $356, up $150 from the 2007 average.

“This college depends on that Knox Fund to operate,” Holmes said. “From September to February tuition covers running this college, after that it depends on gifts from alumni and the endowment, which is basically gifts from alumni. So this college really does depend on these gifts coming in.”

The Advancement Department has shifted their focus this year, connecting with lapse donors instead of the continually large donors during the student calling program.

The overall funding numbers are behind mainly because of a decrease in bequests. Bequests are somewhat random and usually come without forewarning.

Another part of the fundraising is the hunt for larger gifts to the school.

For Director of Major and Planned Giving at Knox Robert King, most of his time is spent visiting alumni that have a higher chance to give large gifts to the school. He and his team travel and contact throughout the year and have been able to have a few new things up their sleeves.

“People want to hear what is going on. So a lot of our discussions really kind of focus on: this is what energy [President Teresa Amott] brings to campus, what her initial vision is, what her plans are and her priorities. It opens the door to allow us to talk about Alumni Hall,” King said. He also has been able to talk about the 175th anniversary.

“The role of the president in fundraising is really at the tip of the iceberg,” Amott said. Amott has brought new strategies and new excitement to the fundraising program and has occasionally been dispatched to talk to alumni about making large gifts.

The president has brought new plans to reconnect alumni to the school and to focus on new data software. Another focus is the renovation of Alumni Hall, which Amott hopes will bring a growth of institutional self-confidence that will improve fundraising for years to come.

Even though there has been an announcement about the $2 million in gifts for Alumni Hall, that has yet to be counted towards the year’s fundraising totals because the total counts the cash on hand, not promises not yet fulfilled.

John Williams

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