It was an October afternoon more than five years ago when AU President James Edwards said the university planned to raise $110 million. Before the announcement was even made, some big donors were already on board.
“These are very challenging times,” Edwards said. “We need to be convinced there are people to make these kinds of gifts.”
The times got even tougher as the recession set in during late 2008. Because of this economic slowdown, the fundraiser was extended beyond its original May 31, 2010, deadline to Dec. 31, 2011. With the extra time, AU went over its expected goal.
As Edwards explained in 2006, “We’re coming to one of those great moments in the life of the university.”
Some of the money has already been used to pay for operational expenses, create scholarships and fund campus construction. The additions are apparent to any visitor to the campus, and they have served the campus and Anderson well. Some of the improvements no doubt were responsible in luring the Colts back to Anderson.
The money came from foundations, organizations and more than 7,000 individuals. The vast majority of the money came from a small set of donors. As Robert Coffman, vice president for advancement and campaign leader, explained, it used to be that 80 percent of the donations came from 20 percent of the donors. Now it’s more like 90-10.
It shows that there is a core of supporters who believe in the school and its mission and want to see it flourish during hard economic times.
Small, private schools are finding it difficult to even stay afloat. There is always competition for students, competition between schools and keeping tuition low enough to attract students but high enough for the university to meet its mission. That’s why having donors and supporters are extremely valuable to a university. It can be the difference between meeting the mission and providing a top-notch education and cutting programs and classes because of tight finances.
Anderson University’s fundraiser shows the school has valuable friends who want the university to excel in all areas of higher education. Congratulations to AU on the fundraiser.
— Editorial published in The Herald Bulletin. Reposted with permission.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing, and theology.