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Articles: Fundraising

Texas A&M University’s campaign to raise $4 billion for research, facilities and scholarships represents the largest-ever fundraising effort in a state known for going big. It’s also the second largest effort announced by a higher education institution.

When it comes to fundraising, most colleges and universities surveyed (59 percent) boost their effort through social media.

Also popular are social media-based days of giving and crowdfunding events. Of the 42 percent that held a day of giving, more than one-third raised over $50,000 that day. And of the 15 percent that crowdfunded, half earned more than $10,000 per year.

Charitable giving in higher education is expected to grow in the U.S. by 4.8 percent in 2015 and an additional 4.9 percent in 2016. (Click to enlarge)

Anticipating and planning future giving to nonprofits has been difficult, with scant reliable resources to help understand the outlook.

But thanks to a new report from the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, institutions now have some predictions—and positive ones, at that.

Need donation spending advice? Turn to the students, as Oklahoma Christian University did.

In November, President John deSteiguer announced that students could vote to allocate a recent $275,000 gift to one of six projects in the university’s Thrive campaign.

Capital fundraising retains a top slot among institutional fundraising priorities due to renovation and construction imperatives, new program requirements and the need to update technology. In addition to broader capital campaigns and a razor-sharp focus on major donors, more institutions are seeking support from the business sector.

Advance planning: Dedicated alumni and friends of Hendrix College can purchase a niche in a campus columbarium.

From cashing in on beer sales at football games to providing community members with a safe way to trash old electronics for a fee, administrators are looking beyond tuition and endowments to make up for budget shortfalls.

Cougar Corporate Partners, a new University of Houston giving program, lets companies invest directly in programs that will have an immediate impact on students who make up the future workforce.

Half of each donation is funneled into scholarships, the first $5,000 of which are being awarded in August. The other half of the donation is split between the M.D. Anderson Library and the University Career Services Center.

One million in 400 days. That’s the amount the Billiken Angels Network, an angel investment group out of Saint Louis University’s John Cook School of Business, raised to help local start-ups.

The group invests in firms of any industry and size that show promise and make an impact on the region and its economy. The eight companies selected for the investments have created a total of 100 jobs in St. Louis.

Michael Silton is the executive director of the UCLA Venture Capital Fund.

Over the last 30 years, the number of college courses teaching entrepreneurship has increased by 95 percent, reflecting an intense demand by U.S. college students.

However, in a survey by Entrepreneur magazine, half of students polled reported that lack of resources was their main reason for not creating startups. And the Young Entrepreneur Council found that nearly three-fourths of college students claim they have no access to on-campus entrepreneurial resources.

Institutions are increasing efforts to equip those in a broad array of campus leadership positions with the skills they need to identify and woo potential donors.

The University of Florida’s last fundraising campaign, completed in October 2012, surpassed its $1.5 billion goal and finished nine months ahead of schedule at $1.72 billion. Despite this tremendous success, the next campaign will deploy a new tactic—a fine-tuned army of the university’s leaders prepared and practiced in the strategies of fundraising.

What makes a college or university more likely to attract million-dollar gifts? It may not be surprising to learn that longer presidential tenure, the age of an institution, strong alumni networks, and national college rankings help schools win big donations.

With funding cuts threatening research and other projects, some institutions hoping to promote innovation are following the trend of raising money through social networking.

More than 165 college and university presidents have asked President Obama and Congress to help close the “innovation deficit.” In an open letter coordinated by the Association of American Universities (AAU) and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), the presidents urge them not to cut additional research and education discretionary spending. By coining the phrase “innovation deficit,” they hope to spark national and local conversations.

In the life of an institution, the chief financial officer helps drive the big narrative, but also digs down into the day-to-day. A CFO is strategist and analyst, decision-maker and inspirer, and protector and possibility-seeker all in one.

The prospect of employees with more money to invest, easier-to-understand investment options, more personalized customer service, and lower fees has colleges and universities rethinking their retirement plans and moving toward a single retirement services vendor.