Victors for Michigan campaign launch events cost at least $750,000

By Peter Shahin, Daily News Editor
Published November 13, 2013

Well, it was a good party.

The total cost of the launch events for the Victors for Michigan development campaign was between $750,000 and $800,000, according to a statement Tuesday from Judith Malcolm, spokeswoman for the Office of Development.

The estimate comprises a media event on Thursday and all events on Friday, including the Community Festival at Ingalls Mall, kickoff at Hill Auditorium, a dinner for donors and the After-Glo celebration later in the evening.

The official kick off for Victors for Michigan, an ambitious $4-billion fundraising effort and the largest in the history of public higher education took place Nov. 8. The campaign’s main goals include scholarships, providing funds for engaged and alternative learning opportunities, and support for research to address some of the world’s most pressing issues.

Malcolm wrote that many of the materials generated for the launch events, including inspirational videos and a live-stream of the event, will be reused throughout the campaign. Since many of the activities shared resources to contain spending, she wrote it was difficult to separate how much each individually cost.

“To achieve our audacious goal of raising $4 billion, we need gifts from hundreds of thousands of donors,” Malcolm wrote. “That means we need hundreds of thousands of people aware of and engaged in the campaign.”

The DTE Energy Foundation donated $25,000 toward the Community Festival, helping offset the costs of that event.

While the Office of Development did not specifically track gifts and pledges received over the weekend, Malcolm wrote that the events were intended to thank donors for their recent gifts, including $50 million from Richard and Susan Rogel and $200 million from Stephen Ross. The purpose of the events was to highlight those donations in order to motivate other donors to begin considering what they might contribute to the campaign.

“Unlike a fundraising telethon, a campaign kickoff is not designed or intended to raise money at that precise moment in time,” Malcolm wrote. “The kickoff event did, however, provide a focus and urgency for fundraising.”

To demonstrate their early support for Victors for Michigan, Malcolm wrote that many donors wanted to contribute in advance of the campaign kick off — so they could also be recognized as leadership donors at individual school and unit events.

Malcolm wrote that Jerry May, the University’s vice president for development, spoke with five potential donors over the weekend who are considering gifts in the $10 to 12 million range and another six who are considering gifts in the $5 to 10 million range. She added that many deans used the kickoff event as a way to close donations in the run-up to the launch. Over the weekend, the deans were then able to use the gifts already received to talk with other potential donors about how they could contribute.

The University has already raised $1.7 billion of the $4 billion goal, which includes the gifts from Ross, Rogel, Penny Stamps, who donated $32.5 million to the School of Art and Design in 2012, and others.

“The goal of every event is to thank the donors who contributed the $1.7 billion in the Nucleus Fund and to inspire others to give,” Malcolm wrote.

Malcolm added that the University had succeeded in its goal of getting its message out to at least five million potential donors over the course of the weekend. The count included those who participated in an event, watched the live-stream of the kickoff in Hill Auditorium or read a Tweet, Facebook post, news article or promotional item.