For All We Call Mizzou calls for more small donations

The campaign is focusing on smaller donations.
Monday, April 30, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 5:11 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

MU alums and potential donors, take note: The school’s $1 billion For All We Call Mizzou campaign is trying to get in touch with you.

With 21 months left in the fundraising drive, campaign administrators are now not only focused on reaching their goal, but also cultivating contacts for future efforts. And to do that, they plan to call, e-mail or otherwise contact every almunus and alumna they can.

The emphasis on smaller donations from a greater number of people has raised the cost of doing business, said Linda L’Hote, MU’s associate vice chancellor for development.

Since it kicked off in 2003, about 9 cents from every dollar the campaign has raised have gone into raising more money. But last year, as it began to focus on small donors, 12 cents from every dollar have been put toward the campaign.

While the increase is notable, it doesn’t mean the fundraiser is less effective, said Ben Keane, a program assistant at the American Institute of Philanthropy. In fact, MU spends well below the 35 cents on every dollar Keane said is considered a goal for foundations around the country.

“Twelve cents? Yeah, that’s pretty solid,” he said. In the early stages of the drive, fundraisers focused their energy on donors who could give more than $100,000, L’Hote said.

That focus kept costs steady from year to year. After all, L’Hote said, it costs less to process one $100,000 gift than to process 10 gifts of $10,000.

But to accommodate the new mission of contacting every graduate, the campaign has hired more people to do gift processing, development research, campaign administration and donor relations.

That translates to more costs.

Still, the effort is important because it lays the groundwork for future money-raising drives, L’Hote said.

“They generally aren’t making huge gifts,” L’Hote said of younger MU graduates. “But, ten years from now, when we might have another campaign, they’re going to be in that age group where they are able to give more.”

With a total of slightly more than $750 million and less than two years left in the campaign, the increased focus on smaller donations hasn’t lessened large gifts.

“If we don’t continue to get the big gifts, we’re not going to make it.” L’Hote said. “We’ve simply added an extra layer.”

The new efforts appear to be paying off. The campaign has raised $815,000 more than at the same time a year ago, with gifts ranging $50,000 to $100,000 showing the largest increase.

And though the school has received two fewer gifts worth $1 million or more than at this time last year, gifts between $100 and $5,000 are also showing a gradual increase.

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Ben Keane April 30, 2007 | 11:49 a.m.

I am quoted in this article as stating that AIP considers a 35 percent fundraising cost to be a goal for nonprofits, which isn't quite correct. AIP considers 35 cents on the dollar raised to be the maximum amount that should be reasonably spent on fundraising over the course of a year; nonprofits that receive a high rating from AIP spend a good deal less that 35 cents to raise a dollar, and direct a high percentage of donations to charitable programs.

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