KSU fundraising results in $4 million more this fiscal year

Tim Magaw

Kent State has seen an increase in fundraising during the first six months of fiscal year 2007, receiving almost $4 million more in gifts than it did at that point in fiscal year 2006.

Kathy Stafford, vice president for university relations and development, said the university has been trying to build a base for donor cultivation.

“Fundraising – there’s no magic to it,” she said. “It’s a process. One of the reasons Kent is behind, we haven’t been doing it very much.”

But during the last few years, Stafford said, the university has become increasingly dedicated to fundraising, and it’s starting to show.

President Lester Lefton attributes this increase to donors’ renewed interest in Kent State. He said he has dedicated about 25 percent of his time to fundraising and “friendraising,” traveling all over the country talking with donors.

“With a new president coming on board, it creates a lot of energy about supporting the institution,” he said.

Stafford said although Kent State is on the right track, the university still needs to concentrate on fundraising for the rest of the fiscal year, which ends June 30. She is optimistic the university will exceed the amount of money raised during fiscal year 2006, which was more than $15.6 million.

Lefton said fundraising has become increasingly important for public universities because of decreased support from the state. Currently, the state provides only about 23 percent of the university’s budget, whereas 25 years ago, it supported about 75 percent.

“We need to act more like a private university in terms of fundraising,” Lefton said.

Lefton recently hired Eugene Finn to head the university’s fundraising efforts as the new vice president for advancement. Fundraising will no longer be part of Stafford’s responsibilities. She said it will be an asset to have someone completely dedicated to fundraising.

“(Finn) will want to get immediately involved in that process,” she said. “And I’m sure we’ll make great strides.”

Kent State is also in the silent phase of a new major fundraising campaign to focus advancement efforts. The last capital campaign ended in 2003, closing at $121.9 million, exceeding the goal of $100 million. The new campaign – the Centennial Campaign – will coincide with the university’s 100-year anniversary, Stafford said.

The first step in the campaign, she said, was to understand each college’s vision for 2010. Each college estimated its needs, and the amount of money needed was extremely high, reaching about $700 million. Next, the university prioritized needs by collaborating with each college’s dean, narrowing the amount to about $220 million.

Stafford said that following the collaboration efforts, the university hired an outside firm to judge whether a fundraising goal of about $200 million was possible. The firm said with adjustments, the university could possibly reach its goal.

Before the campaign goes public, Stafford said, the goal is to raise about half the amount needed. In the last report, she said the campaign is going well and has banked about $83 million. Stafford said a final goal for the campaign has not been determined, and it could be raised or lowered.

Lefton and Stafford both said once Finn begins in April, some of the campaign goals could be reconceptualized or adjusted.

Contact administration reporter Tim Magaw at [email protected].