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University officials aim to increase alumni giving

Total dollars raised from donations ahead of schedule.

The bar for alumni giving was set last year, but university officials said they feel they can top it. The goal is to raise $4 million more than last year and increase the participation rate, a welcome prospect from high-ranking Temple administrators.

After the last fiscal year ended on June 30, a total of $65.8 million in donations and pledges had been reported, an all-time university record. Institutional Advancement, the office that oversees fundraising, aims to surpass the record by amassing $70 million in donations, Interim Senior Vice President of Institutional Advancement Tilghman Moyer said.

The university increased funding for Institutional Advancement by $1.3 million for this fiscal year.

Moyer said the figures have been on track to meet the goal with 50 percent more money raised than they had this time last year. However, Moyer said the number of donors is “slightly behind by a few hundred alumni donors” compared to last year’s numbers, something he said isn’t of much concern with less than four months to go until the figures are final.

As of last year, Temple’s alumni participation rate came in at 7 percent, a point Temple has mostly sat at for the last decade. Moyer said that in a detailed study a few years ago, it was found that these numbers are typical of urban and historically commuter colleges.

However, this doesn’t keep administrators from aiming to match higher rates at other nearby universities. Penn State had an alumni participation rate of 30 percent and the University of Pittsburgh’s rate was 35 percent last year.
These numbers also serve another purpose. In the annual U.S. News & World Report that ranks colleges, alumni participation rate is factored into the decision. In the 2013 report, alumni participation served a minor role among the seven-category test with this number contributing an estimated 5 percent of the decision-making. Additionally, the alumni participation rate is requested by foundations in their decision-making process to donate grants.

“It’s an area that certainly this office can impact in those rankings,” Moyer said. “I think it’s a place where alumni can feel like they’re making an impact on the rankings of the university. The higher the ranking, the more value the Temple degree has.”

Alumni donations are typically given with restrictions on what the money may be used for. The most common purposes are to fund a scholarship via the endowment or invest in capital, such as constructing new buildings.

In Fiscal Year 2012, $9 million in donations went toward student support and $10.5 million went toward campus development. Temple’s chief financial officer and treasurer Ken Kaiser said an unrestricted donation – one without a desired designation by the donor – may help with the budget, but isn’t as long-term beneficial for Temple.

“If [Moyer] came in and said, ‘Hey, I got a $10 million gift just unrestricted for operations, I’d say, ‘That’s great, give me the check,’” Kaiser said. “But what’s it really going to do for Temple in the long run? To get endowed gifts or for capital, they’re really transformational.”

In November, trustee Lewis Katz made a pledge to donate $25 million to the university, an all-time record for Temple. Kaiser said it has yet to be determined if Katz wants the money to go toward a certain designation. Moyer said that this donation has not been added into the figures for total dollars raised.

When asked if there was a noticeable fluctuation in alumni support following the elimination of seven non-revenue sports in December, Moyer said he didn’t see one in the statistics.

“I’m not that naive to think that it hasn’t affected some people’s decisions to make a gift,” Moyer said. “But we’re not seeing the drop-off that perhaps those that aren’t closest to the program think that we would see.”

Marcus McCarthy can be reached at marcus.mccarthy@temple.edu or on Twitter @MarcusMcCarthy6.

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