There can be no doubt that "things go better with Coca-Cola." The most recent proof is the rousing success of the Emory/Coca-Cola Challenge over the course of its five-year history. With an eye to the future and a Coca-Cola for toasting purposes, William H. Fox--vice president for institutional advancement--says, "We are very impressed with the results of the Challenge and indebted to the Coca-Cola Foundation. May Emory and Coca-Cola maintain their wonderful partnership for years to come!"
The Coca-Cola Foundation agreed to a challenge in December 1989, on the 100th anniversary of the birth of Coca-Cola executive Robert W. Woodruff. The terms were defined as follows: if Emory's alumni, trustees, faculty, staff, parents, and other friends would make their annual gifts to the University unrestricted and would increase those gifts each year over a five-year period, the foundation would match them up to $2 million.
The Coca-Cola Foundation is the philanthropic arm of The Coca-Cola Company. Since 1989 it has dispensed some $50 million in grants to public and private universities, elementary and secondary schools, teacher-training programs, educational programs for minority students, arts and environmental education programs, and educational programs that serve a global constituency.
The Challenge has underlined the importance of unrestricted giving to the welfare of the University. In the face of today's higher operating costs, cutbacks in government funding, and the shrinking base of families who are able to pay full tuition, private universities like Emory increasingly must rely upon annual gifts to support academic programs. Last year, for instance, tuition covered only 60 percent of the University's basic educational and general expenses.
Thus, unrestricted annual gifts provide Emory with a margin of growth. These are the funds that deans use to expand scholarships, finance additional work-study programs, equip new labs, and develop new courses. Unrestricted gifts bolster the libraries as well, helping to build collections and provide the latest data-retrieval systems. Not least, unrestricted gifts support the scholarship of faculty and graduate students, funding publication and transportation costs related to their research.
For the five years of the Challenge, Emory secured 15,770 new donors, and its total of new and increased unrestricted gifts exceeded $3.8 million. During this period, 49.4 percent of solicitable alumni made contributions. The goal in this, the fifth year, was $475,000; despite it being the highest mark of the program, the goal was met in mid-July, more than one month before the end of the Challenge.
Given that only new and increased money counted toward the Challenge goals, the program's achievements are even more impressive. Each year the Challenge deepened, and the University had to seek more widely for additional donors, while the dollar amounts of the goals continued to increase. One of the challenges that still remains for the annual fund is to inspire donors to keep to a yearly schedule of giving.
However, before defining the course of its future challenges, Emory has much thanking to do. First, to the entire Coca-Cola Foundation--especially to its president, Donald R. Greene--goes gratitude for believing in the value of the original proposal. Appreciation is due as well to the countless volunteers who made the efforts of the Challenge Fund more effective and to the many donors whose contributions helped meet the Challenge year to year.
In the words of President William M. Chace, "The Emory/Coca-Cola Challenge is one of the more attractive and successful annual-giving initiatives I have seen in my twenty-six years in higher education."--S.M.C.
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