Following last year’s announcement of a $100 million campaign for student scholarship, increased resources and a renewed focus on donors led the university to set its one-year fundraising record, gathering $65.8 million from more than 45,000 donors.
The $65.8 million raised by the university in fiscal year 2013 breaks the previous high of $63.6 million in fiscal year 2008, which coincided with the Access to Excellence fundraising campaign during Ann Weaver Hart’s tenure as president.
Though officials said the record-setting year was a combination of added resources to the Office of Institutional Advancement and energy surrounding the university from the scholarship campaign, Tilghman Moyer, interim senior vice president for Institutional Advancement, said the record is in part because of a sound strategy coming into last year.
“Any good fundraising results come from a good plan,” said Moyer, who took over as the interim senior vice president when David Unruh resigned from the position in December. “We will continue to focus our efforts on attracting new donors – individuals who haven’t given before – and also focus on those alumni who have given in the past and focus on asking for increased support.”
Of last year’ donors, more than 3,000 were alumni who have received degrees in the last decade, a nearly 60 percent increase from the previous year, according to the university.
Along with a strategy to identify new donors and keep tapping into frequent donors, Moyer said the scholarship campaign provided some of the energy and support to encourage people to donate. The plan was announced in August 2012 while Richard Englert was acting president, and aimed to raise $100 million for student scholarship in five years.
Of the funds raised last year, $16.5 million was directed to support for scholarships – the type the $100 million campaign aims for. While that only represents roughly a quarter of what donors gave to Temple, it rose 88 percent from fiscal year 2012, when $8.8 million was directed to student scholarship.
“The scholarship initiative gave something that many people could identify with, so that aided greatly,” Moyer said. “A successful fundraising operation doesn’t happen in a vacuum, it happens because of a lot of buzz and awareness.”
Moyer noted that added resources to Institutional Advancement aided the office’s ability to advertise and court donors to give to the university. Almost three years ago, Hart approved a three-year investment plan for the office after an extensive review of its operation.
Moyer said during the past two years, the office has built a “strong team,” and last year’s success shows the beginning of a “payoff on this investment.”
A more unified leadership has also led to confidence in the university which aided in fundraising, Moyer said. Since fiscal year 2013 began, the university has named a president, filled its interim provost position and named a slew of deans to positions which had been previously been held by interim deans.
“It gives the appearance of senior leadership being solidified,” Moyer said.
One of the factors that contributed to the successful fundraising effort was President Neil Theobald’s understanding of how fundraising works.
At Indiana University, Theobald was in charge of a seven-year capital campaign that generated $1.2 billion for the university.
While Theobald was impressed by the record-setting fundraising year, he said he more astounded by the amount of donors who gave to the university last year.
“It wasn’t just the amount of money we raised, which was fabulous, it was the number of people that donated,” Theobald said. “You’ve got more alumni seeing really good things going on here and they want to give back.”
Temple is in the process of overcoming an institutional mindset that previously did not place fundraising on its list of top priorities, Moyer said. Fundraising only became a top concern for the university over the last 10 years, he said.
Though fundraising has been a larger concern for the university, it has still largely fluctuated since fiscal year 2004. Since the previous high in 2008, fundraising dropped off to $42.4 million in fiscal year 2009, rose to $50.9 million in fiscal year 2010, and dropped to as low as $38.8 million in fiscal year 2012.
While fundraising dipped from $49.6 million in 2011, to $38.8 million in 2012, officials said the pervious administration still held fundraising as a top concern.
“There was no less focus from the pervious administration,” Moyer said. “It’s been a steady emphasis on fundraising.
Despite the $17 million increase from 2012 to 2013, Temple still lags behind other institutions like Penn State – which raised more than $260 million last year. Moyer said he attributes this to the tradition of fundraising at those schools.
“Those institutions, in particular Penn and Penn State, have invested in their institutional advancement offices long before we have,” Moyer said. “It’s only been the last 10 years that Temple has made a significant investment in alumni outreach and fundraising.”
“Part of it is it just has not been a priority of the institution at the level at the level it has been at those institutions,” Moyer added. “That has changed.”
Since Temple has only made fundraising a top priority since the early 2000s, Moyer said it gives the university an opportunity to study and learn from its peer universities.
“When we look at schools like Pitt and Penn State, other state-related universities that look like us, [we ask] ‘Why are they able to raise so much more money than we are?’” Moyer said.
Sean Carlin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on Twitter @SeanCarlin84.