No, it wasn’t just pulled out of a hat.

Jerry May, the University’s vice president for development, said choosing the Victors for Michigan campaign’s $4 billion goal was a fairly scientific process.

First, the University recognizes that it will need to raise more money than was gathered during the past campaign, The Michigan Difference, May said.

Development officers then perform a name-by-name analysis of donors with the potential to give more than $100,000 — a critical category that May estimated will bring the campaign total to about $3 billion in the approximately next seven years.

The University also estimates that it can raise at least $1 billion from a shortlist of mega-donors, like philanthropists A. Alfred Taubman or Stephen Ross, the campaign’s chair. The mega-gift category includes part of the $1.7 billion already raised for the campaign.

From the group of potential major donors who haven’t yet given to the University, development officers then make educated guesses about what they can expect these people to contribute.

May said he plans to spend time on the U.S. coasts courting some of these billionaires during the course of the campaign. The University’s Board of Regents, along with May, will travel to New York City in January in lieu of their regularly scheduled meeting — a jaunt that will certainly include time to engage with potential and longtime benefactors.

“We’ll keep working on them and we hope we’ll become a priority for them,” May said.

Still, he noted that for every four prospects it courts, the University usually achieves one gift at the sought level.

Lead gifts, at $5 million or more apiece, are expected to generate $1 billion of the campaign’s total. May said he is currently involved in about six gift discussions that include potential donations that are more than $5 million each.

As to timing of the gifts, May said they are announced as they arrive. However, the University plans to create some deadlines to continue the campaign’s momentum, including a halfway celebration in 2015. May said significant amounts of money are also raised every fall when alumni return for football season.

“Frankly, we just want the money to come in when it will come in,” May said.

May said donor experiences also assist development officers in courting donors. He added that celebrations, like Friday’s kickoff for Victors for Michigan, are some of the few times the University can get a large number of donors to campus for a special event.

Giving after an event like the kickoff, “people are doing something rational, but they’re having fun,” May said.

But when recruiting donors and determining the campaign’s goal, Chief Financial Officer Timothy Slottow said it’s key the campaign matches a donor’s capability to give with the University’s most significant priorities and needs.

“And it’s not an easy thing to do,” Slottow said.

Though specific projects may appeal to donors, Slottow said the University must also secure donations for less attractive initiatives, like endowing capital maintenance. Capital maintenance is used to maintain and periodically modernize existing buildings.

Recently, the University has begun asking donors for capital projects to include funds earmarked for a facility’s future maintenance. So far, that plan has raised $30 million in endowed funds for capital upkeep.

“With lots of creativity, we’re finding new ways to really get donors interested in the most important things that wouldn’t necessarily be obvious to a donor,” Slottow said.

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