Posted by Philip Poole on 2010-09-08
Samford University has passed the halfway point in fundraising for the multi-year $200 million “Campaign for Samford” that was launched publicly in October 2009.
Several estate gifts in early August made a significant impact on the total, according to W. Randall Pittman, Samford's vice president for advancement, but a $30,000 scholarship contribution that accompanied a larger pledge from a long-time Samford friend pushed the total past the $100 million mark.
Although the donor wants to remain anonymous, Pittman said she was aware of the significance of her gift.
"This campaign has been about gifts of all sizes," Pittman said. "We are grateful for the $25 and $50 gifts and pledges we have received from so many alumni and friends, as well as the significant estate gifts we have received. Every gift – regardless of the amount – is important to Samford."
The new campaign total comes just weeks after Samford ended a near-record fiscal year of giving. Contributions of $21.6 million made the 2009-10 fiscal year the second-best in history, Pittman said. The record – just over $23 million – was set the previous year. Campaign gifts and pledges totaled $94 million at the end of the fiscal year on June 30.
In the aftermath of that record-setting year, the national economic downturn left many of Samford's most loyal donors reluctant to commit to major gifts. Despite the potential reality that giving could be down substantially in 2010, "God's people have once again been generous in giving back," Pittman said.
"We try to stay in touch with constituents in both good and bad economic times about their individual financial circumstances. Those who love Samford have empathy for the school. They will help us when they can."
"A Campaign for Samford" is scheduled to continue through 2014. The largest campaign component, about $65 million, is designated for scholarships. Funds will be used for existing scholarships, ranging in vintage from the two-year old University Fellows program for top academic students to the 80-year-old Samford Marching Band. Additional endowment would provide new program-specific and needs-based scholarships, according to Pittman.
Scholarship funding is critical, especially in today's economy, Pittman said. Another major component of the campaign is $60 million in annual support because tuition revenue alone cannot sustain a major private university like Samford.
"We need external funds in order not to have to dip into endowment or be forced to raise tuition drastically to maintain our academic quality," he explained.
To reach the campaign halfway point this quickly indicates strong support for Samford's unique mission and nationally-recognized academic programs. Pittman noted that many major gifts are a result of "Samford's emphasis on both academics and a strong Christian world view."
Campaign volunteers and university staff cannot slow down, however, Pittman noted. "We still have one-half of our campaign goal ahead of us, and we have to encourage old and new friends alike that giving to Samford is as critical in the future as it has been in the recent past."
Former Alabama governor and current Samford trustee Albert P. Brewer of Birmingham is general chairman of the campaign.
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