October 20, 2003

Annual Fund sets record

By Michael Terrazas

Emory’s Annual Fund set a record in fiscal year 2003 by raising $3,575,718 in unrestricted funds for the University, breaking the previous high set in 2002 by nearly $115,000.

The achievement is especially impressive considering the campaign was behind its previous year’s pace by nearly $140,000 as of June 30 and by more than $94,000 on July 31. But a late push relying on e-mail communications with alumni and other prospective donors not only made up the difference but surpassed 2002’s totals.

"We sent out eight fiscal year-end e-mails, and we basically focused on previous donors who hadn’t given and tried to renew and retrieve their support," said Francine Cronin, assistant vice president for annual giving, who came to Emory on June 23 from the SUNY Institute of Technology in Utica, N.Y.

Cronin said her office also sent pledge reminders to people who had not yet sent in their contributions; finally, more than 500 generous donors agreed to make second donations to Emory after already making good on their first pledge. In all, some 13,183 individuals made gifts to the University, and this in a year when alumni giving nationwide was down by 13.6 percent, according to the Council for Aid to Education.

"I’m the eternal optimist, and at every institution there’s going to be a unique set of challenges that you’re faced with," Cronin said. "You can sit there and say, ‘Oh well, we have these challenges and we can’t more forward,’ or you can say this what we have to work with and we’re going to overcome those and forge ahead. You just have to be creative and think of ways to compensate for the things that may not be perfectly aligned."

Cronin said her office now is coordinating all large-scale direct communications to donors (e-mail, direct mail, phone solicitation), leaving the individual schools’ annual fund offices the freedom to conduct personal solicitations to larger benefactors.

Overall, according to Institutional Advancement (IA), the University raised $123.5 million in FY03 from 32,063 donors, up from 30,255 donors in FY02. Bill Fox, senior vice president for IA, said the campaign was a great success in an "extraordinarily difficult economic climate."

"I’m proud of $123 million in an economy like it was in 2002–03," Fox said. "Last October the stock market dipped as low as it’s been in years."

Fox said it’s too early to tell whether the slowly recovering economy bodes well for increased fund raising in 2004, but he said President Jim Wagner will be involved in helping draw more external support to Emory.

"President Wagner will play an active role in fund raising," Fox said. "We talk often about his ideas and strategies."