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Foundation reports record fundraising year

By : Rachel Coker

The Binghamton University Foundation recently wrapped up its single best year for fundraising. During the 2005-06 fiscal year, the foundation raised $19,726,138.

The record total included $13.2 million in software from UGS Corp., the single largest gift in the University’s history. The Binghamton Fund and senior class gift also set records.

“The vital contributions of our friends and alumni support Binghamton in many exciting ways,” President Lois B. DeFleur said. “Undergraduate and graduate students as well as faculty members benefit from these gifts, and the University is stronger because of them. We are grateful to our donors and to the Foundation for their commitment to and support of Binghamton.”

Binghamton relies not only on individuals but also on corporations and foundations, noted Marcia Craner, vice president for external affairs. “We continue to have very good support from foundation giving, even though that’s not the trend nationally,” she said.

The Binghamton University foundation, a separate 501(c)3 organization, contributed nearly $20 million to the University in 2005-06.

Binghamton’s endowment now tops $56.3 million, putting it in the exclusive company of about 15 percent of college and university endowments nationwide.

“The Foundation’s endowment continues to perform well and has surpassed the $56 million mark for the first time,” said Sheila Doyle, assistant vice president for development – administration and finance. “A solid endowment offers stability, flexibility and visibility to the University.”

The Binghamton Fund, which took in $1,035,712, allows the University to tackle creative and critical programs in a variety of areas. The money supports scholarships, student research and travel, admissions recruitment, the Binghamton Scholars and other priorities determined by the schools and units.

The total is the result of direct mail, telefund, e-solicitation and staff and volunteer efforts targeted to alumni, parents, faculty, staff, students and friends.

“One million dollars in annual support through the Binghamton Fund is equivalent to the yearly proceeds from a $20 million endowment,” said Melinda Holicky, former director of the Binghamton Fund.

Craner, who assumed her current position in July, previously was senior associate vice president for alumni and development and executive director of the Binghamton University Foundation. She recently took time to discuss her background and priorities with Inside BU.

What particular strengths do you bring to this job? I’m a product of public higher education and I believe passionately in the State University of New York system. I have almost 30 years’ experience in institutional advancement and I managed Binghamton’s first comprehensive gifts campaign.

What’s the biggest challenge facing your division?

We’re planning for the University’s most ambitious comprehensive gifts campaign.

We’ll be bringing together key alumni leaders and friends this weekend for a dialogue with many of our academic leaders and professional staff in hopes of energizing people about what’s going on at the University. After Leadership Weekend, they’ll be informed ambassadors able to play a key role in the campaign.

In order for Binghamton to continue to thrive and grow, we’re going to have to rely on private funds to help us ensure accessibility, enrich student experiences and sustain our faculty and academic programs.

This is a challenge for young institutions like ours: How do you grow your own philanthropists? If we miss this generation of alumni, we’ll never recoup our losses. We have to help them value the University’s long-term needs, especially in academics, research and developing our faculty and students.

You have to do “friendraising” along with fundraising, and faculty members can help us do that because what they do is so exciting. Their powerful stories can help us bring Binghamton’s mission alive.

What other new initiatives are on the horizon?

We have a wonderful story to tell at Binghamton, and we need to be more focused in how we tell it. An integrated branding and marketing campaign is in the works, which will help with that challenge. We need key messages that all the key communicators on campus can share. This effort also goes hand-in-hand with fundraising.

Our alumni and other friends, including parents, faculty, corporations and foundations, tend to be very successful, educated people who are bombarded with all kinds of media messages and we’ve got to be in there competing. The Binghamton University Magazine is also an important part of that effort.
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Last Updated: 10/14/08