Sunday, October 01, 2000

UC fundraisers pass $300M goal

$1 billion may be next target

By Ben L. Kaufman
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Fundraisers at the University of Cincinnati are taking a deep breath after exceeding their $300 million goal. That means setting a new goal — and no one flinches at the suggestion of $1 billion by 2010.

        Or, as UC President Joseph A. Steger put it, “That should be done.”

  • Goal of five-year campaign: $300 million.
  • Total raised: $328.9 million.
  • Possible next campaign goal: $1 billion.
  • Number of alumni names screened: 200,000.
  • Areas of focus: Cincinnati, Dayton, Chicago, New York, Detroit, Los Angeles, San Francisco metro areas and all of Florida.
  • Number of gifts of $100,000 or more: 300.
  • Number of gifts of $5 million or more: Eight.
        For Dr. Steger, there is a sense of urgency beyond the plans for future capital campaigns.

        Money, he said, will define which schools are the nation's 50 world-class research institutions and which are simply “the rest.”

        UC has some programs in that top tier now but the only way to maintain their status and add others is to raise the total endowment above $1 billion, Dr. Steger said.

        The five-year campaign, which will be celebrated with the Oct. 21 Presidential Ball, shattered its goal with pledges of $328.9 million, thanks primarily to alumni. Donors realized the value of the education they received at UC, said George Strike, campaign co-chairman.

        Even as fundraising efforts pause, they don't stop. “In two years, we're going to decide what to do next,” said Richard W. Bauer, executive director of the UC Founda tion.

        “The people that we organized now know we're headed for another campaign,” Bauer said.

        The foundation plans to maintain the pace of the past year and raise at least $80 million annually to keep its embryonic national network of alumni donors in tune, giving and soliciting others.

        “Alums were delighted to hear from their alma mater,” said Mr. Strike, chairman of American Laundry Machinery, Inc., “and they were very delighted to give for the future of the university.”

        Such “peer-to-peer and local” encounters paid off in the current campaign, Mr. Bauer said. “Asking is the key.”

        That's something UC finally is learning to do, foundation chairman Reuven Katz conceded.

        Buck Niehoff, who headed the steering committee for the Greater Cincinnati area, said he and other solicitors often had to bring alumni up to date on “all of the really incredibly wonderful things that UC is doing these days.”

        UC's endowment — worth about $964 million — is in the top 10 for public universities, the result of local generosity rather than national fundraising. However, that doesn't suffice at a time when some say Ohio legislators might bow to the pressure for increased funding for K-12 public schools at the expense of higher education.

        That's why Mr. Niehoff and hundreds of others pitched in.

        Pleased as he is with the results of his valedictory campaign, Mr. Bauer leaves an even more important legacy when he retires Oct. 31: an alumni network and printouts listing thousands more who should be enlisted on UC's behalf.

        “It's just the beginning,” Mr. Katz said.

        Mr. Strike agreed.

        “One of the greatest benefits of the campaign is the foundation laid for future campaigns.”

        Mr. Bauer arrived as No. 2 at the foundation in 1990. Within months, he was promoted. Two years later, Mr. Katz became foundation board chairman.

        Initially, they put their energies into completing a $200 million goal they inherited for 1990-1995 without a formal campaign so they could to prepare for a goal of $300 million in the current campaign.

        It was a good move.

        The noncampaign brought in $208 million while the foundation expanded its staff, trained new employees and began to secure its own funding.

        To create a national network of alumni donors and solicitors, they screened 200,000 names for the top 1 per cent and top 10 per cent of affluent alumni and other po tential donors.

        Using zip codes, foundation staff chose clusters on which they would concentrate: Cincinnati, Dayton, Chicago, New York, Detroit, Cleveland, Los Angeles and San Francisco metro areas plus all of Florida.

        Successful alumni in those regions already had made UC “a significant national institution,” Mr. Bauer said, but “the university had not really connected with them.”

        Many were clueless about the growth and increasing research and scholarly clout of their alma mater.

        So foundation staff spent months “reconnecting” individually with more than 4,000 potential donors.

        Mr. Bauer said his colleagues reported that the typical welcome was, “Where in the hell have you been for 20 years?”

        The answer requires a little history.

        Centralized fundraising began in the mid-1970s when the university swapped municipal status for state affiliation and transferred its endowments to the new UC Foundation.

        Only in the past decade have big bucks begun to flow, reflecting intense efforts to create a “culture of giving” among alumni, students, faculty and administrative staff, Mr. Bauer said.

        “When you talk about building a culture, you're talking about a long period of time.”

        It was worth it. Solicitors won more than 300 gifts of more than $100,000, including eight gifts of $5 million or more; one corporate gift was $13 million, given in installments over the five years. Of the eight, four were individual and four were corporate.

        “You work on them,” said Mr. Katz, the foundation chairman, to get donations of that size.

        More than 74,000 donors — individuals, companies and nongovernmental grants — contributed to the current campaign, with more than $200 million from Greater Cincinnati.

        While UC has identified half a dozen potential mega-donors, they have not yet started schmoozing them for the next campaign. The current hiatus reflects uncertainties at the school and foundation.

        Mr. Steger's contract expires in 2002. He is expected to announce in the coming year whether he will retire.

        That matters, because a potential mega-giver wants to talk to the president of the university and Dr. Steger or his successor will want a role in campaign decisions.

        Also, Mr. Bauer is retiring on Oct. 31 and successor Ronda Johnson, chief operating officer of the Texas Tech Foundation in the Texas Tech University system, needs time to take charge.

        Looking back over his decade at the foundation, Mr. Bauer was pleased: it typically takes up to 30 years for a new university foundation “to get moving” and UC is years ahead of that schedule.

        It's not too soon. Ohio is steadily reducing the proportion of income that state schools get from the legislature.

        Today, the state and the foundation each contribute about a fourth — or approximately $160 million — to UC's annual budget.

        No one is predicting a surge in state support, so it falls to researchers and fund raisers to maintain or improve UC's financial position, Dr. Steger and Mr. Bauer said.


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