For 50 years, the University has had an annual giving fund, although a lot has changed in those five decades. Compared to the single program of 50 years ago, today’s annual fund is a complex mix of programs.
But, says annual fund director Dan Cloran, it’s “more than asking for money. The annual fund actually plays a vital role in the University’s financial well-being. There’s a big gap between what it actually costs to educate a student and what tuition covers. There’s also been an increase in operational expenses as the University grows and adds buildings. The annual fund helps those areas or wherever the University needs it most. And every year we close the books and start over from scratch. On the first day of the fiscal year, our account always shows a balance of $0. We then have 365 days to raise $5 million.”
The annual fund is divided into two categories—restricted gifts, which account for 35 percent of all donations, and unrestricted gifts, which account for the remaining 65 percent. What most alumni are familiar with, says Cloran, are unrestricted gifts, which are broken down into six programs, each targeted toward specific groups. These programs are:
• B.M.X.—Businesses Mobilized for Xavier. This is the annual fund’s oldest giving program. These are gifts from businesses.
• Matching Gifts. Some businesses also match contributions made by their employees to the University dollar-for-dollar—or in some cases two-for-one or three-for-one.
“Matching gifts doesn’t cost a donor anything,” Cloran says. “All they have to do is fill out a form. We take care of the rest. But our challenge is making sure every donor knows if their company offers this, because if the company does and we don’t know about it, we’re leaving money on the table.”
• Parental Giving. This is for parents of current and past students. Although it may seem like a lot for a parent to make a donation after paying for tuition, last year more than 1,500 parents participated.
• Faculty/Staff Giving. This is targeted at those working at the University. The goal, says Cloran, is 100 percent participation.
“These are the people who are direct beneficiaries and know its importance the most.”
• Senior Legacy Fund. Each year, members of the senior class are asked to pledge $25 a year for four years.
“Because of the gap between tuition and the actual cost of educating a student, somebody helped these students financially for the last four years whether they knew it or not. We ask that they give a portion of their newly found income back to help the next group.”
• General Fund. The general fund is the broadest and largest program. It encompasses everyone who doesn’t fall into one of the other programs. It’s broken down into five subprograms:
G.O.L.D.—Graduates Of the Last Decade. This is a continuation of the senior legacy program, but because the University is aware that a person’s life changes most in the first 10 years out of college—getting settled, getting married, climbing the corporate ladder—the donation levels are different.
Direct Mail. The direct mail campaign includes everyone. Four times a year, general solicitations are made. More targeted direct mail pieces are also made to specific groups throughout the year.
“We’re trying to segment these mailings so that if you give, you don’t continue getting solicitations,” says Cloran.
Phonathon. This also covers all groups. Student callers made 130,000 calls to alumni and friends last year.
“It’s the highest paid student job on campus,” says Cloran, “because it’s the most important. They are the direct beneficiaries of annual fund contributions, so it makes sense for them to ask.”
Class Agent Program. In this new program, an individual from each class contacts classmates on behalf of the University and asks them to contribute. These “ambassadors” help increase the percentage of alumni who give.
“That’s vital,” says Cloran, “because grants and foundations look at the percentage of alumni giving when they make their decisions. They figure if the alumni aren’t giving to the University, why should they?”
The 1831 Society. This, says Cloran, is the most important leadership society within the annual fund. It takes an annual donation of $1,000 or more to join. Several leadership levels exist within The 1831 Society as well: Chancellor’s Club, President’s Club, Trustees’ Club, Founders’ Club, Deans’ Club and Elet Club.