As state support for the University continues to decline as an overall portion of the University’s budget, campus leaders are gearing up for the next major fundraising push.

In an interview with The Michigan Daily last month, University President Mary Sue Coleman said the to-be-named fundraising campaign would launch in November of this year with no definite end date decided yet. The University has not yet released a target goal or some of the exact projects that they hope to finance through the multi-billion dollar effort. However, the general theme of the campaign will shift significantly from the brick-and-mortar focus of previous fundraising drives.

“This particular campaign will be focused more than the last campaign was on people and programs and less focused on buildings, though there will be some buildings, I’m sure, because some of our donors are interested in helping us solve some of our problems with buildings and facilities. It will be a combination,” Coleman said. “From our standpoint, we really do want this financial aid piece to be dominant in the campaign.”

The University has had three capital campaigns since 1981. The capital campaign of the last decade, the Michigan Difference, ran from 2004 to 2008 and raised $3.2 billion for the University. Funds were used in large part to renovate or add to the University’s physical footprint through the construction of 22 new campus buildings, including the Ross School of Business, the Ford School of Public Policy’s Weill Hall, C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital and Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital.

The Michigan Difference also supported the creation of 185 new professorships and nearly 2,000 new scholarships.

Although donations have peaked during campaign times, there has been a general rise in annual contributions during years following the campaigns compared to pre-campaign levels. The record for a single year was in 2008 — the last year of the Michigan Difference campaign — with $342 million raised.

Coleman said the normal cycle for fundraising campaigns is usually five to six years.

“If you look over time at universities, what you’ll find is a rhythm,” Coleman said. “It’s not that you’re not raising money. You’re always raising money. We’re on the right rhythm.”

One of the main organizations involved with planning and coordinating events and pushes for the campaign will be the University’s Office of Development, which oversees the creation and sustaining of relationships with donors and alumni. The upcoming effort will be spearheaded by Jerry May, University vice president for development. May also led the successful Michigan Difference campaign of the last decade.

May said last week that the Office of Development has been working closely with faculty from across the University to target priority areas for advancing educational opportunities.

“The deans of the University have worked for the last two years on a strategic planning process for where they want the University to go over the next five to 10 years,” May said. “What are the academic innovations? What are the academic priorities that will make us a stronger, better and particularly a more relevant educational institution?”

He added that 38 different sectors of the University are involved in the planning process — each with their own priorities and goals for the upcoming campaign. However, each of these units is working with the Office of Development to find the most effective ways of maximizing contributions from donors while maintaining long-term relationships.

Judy Malcolm, the Office of Development’s senior director of executive communications, added that matching donors’ interests with complementary areas within the University would continue to be a priority during the campaign.

“The endowment always increases in campaigns — raising money for the endowment is an important part of all campaigns,” Malcolm said. “When you put money in the endowment, you are guaranteeing the future long-term health of the University.”

In the last campaign, donors contributed $923 million toward the endowment out of $3.2 billion raised overall. Malcolm said the endowment contributions were earmarked primarily for professorships and scholarships. It is unclear whether the endowment contribution as a portion of overall funds raised will increase in the campaign launching this year given the increased focus on these categories.

The University is also planning a kick-off event for the campaign to motivate donors and students, but Malcolm said plans have not yet been finalized.

“We need to fashion this in a way donors can get excited about the difference they can make in people’s lives so a lot of this will be storytelling about what students have done and what the impact of having various scholarships has been,” Coleman said. “We need to describe for people what the need is. They don’t necessarily understand our unmet need, particularly for out-of-state students, we can’t be need-blind.”

In an interview last week, University Provost Philip Hanlon said endowment funds are almost entirely “designated” and not easily used to cover general expenses for the University. Most proceeds from endowment contributions are narrowly limited to the use designated by the original contributor.

Hanlon echoed Coleman by saying the University would split its funds among scholarships, programs and buildings like the previous campaign, but it would refocus on the former for the upcoming fundraising cycle.

Daily Staff Reporter Sam Gringlas contributed reporting

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