Capital Campaigning at WIU

For the past six years, WIU has been reaching out to alumni and friends to give donations to our wonderful school as part of a capital campaign. The Capital Campaign goal is to raise $60 million; and WIU has received $54 million of that goal. Vice President for Advancement and Public Services Brad Bainter spoke with me about what’s involved for the Capital Campaign.

The Capital Campaign is a focused effort for alumni and friends to help support Western Illinois University. Every college on campus has its own area which alumni try to support, but the University Campaign aims to focus on scholarships. Bainter said, “The number one area of support is scholarships; the campaign itself is for scholarships- the scholarships are really what the donors want [to support].”

Bainter explained that any friends and alumni can donate towards the campaign. He said, “If they want to support a certain department, they can. Most of the time it’s the person who wants to support their major. They can support business… English…we don’t direct it in any one place. Or if they were involved in certain student activities, then we’ll support those areas,” Bainter said.

Going back six years when planning for the Capital Campaign began, a feasibility study was done; it said the university may be able to get about $40 million. Bainter explained that there was a firm from Minneapolis who did a study on WIU’s database. “We have 115,000 alumni; and we look at our alumni and try to see who has the capacity to give a big gift.” After the research and talking with WIU alumni, the university determined the goal for the campaign.

During the process of raising $60 million, Bainter said WIU has been fortunate. “We’ve had a campaign in the past and we like to double. We’ve been very fortunate that alumni and friends give us support because of the tough economy. There have been lots of possibilities of money coming in,” he said. “We’ve had 500 acres donated…scholarship money…they want to provide endowments.”

Bainter said in addition to donations, the university also counts gifts when tallying campaign donations. He mentioned that some donors leave money in their wills or in their trusts. If someone were to donate a large sum of money, Bainter said the entire gift would not be counted in the campaign total. “We never count a full gift, and we use it conservatively over time where it’s needed.” Rules and regulations set up for fundraising by universities across the country govern the amount that can be donated, Bainter stressed. He explained that anyone giving a gift must be turning 65 years or older during the course of the campaign for it to be used.

For the alumni and friends who have already donated, Bainter emphasized his appreciation. “It’s gratifying during this time to be successful with the campaign,” he began. “We hope that when they get the phone call or letter, they say yes. When we see big gifts are announced, there is a tendency for alumni to think their donations might not make a difference. It makes an impact. We hope they will make a donation at whatever level they are comfortable with,” Bainter explained.

Alumni and friends can still make a donation towards the University Campaign, and it will be a donation that can change a student’s life. Improving the quality of our university and funding scholarships will make a positive difference for many WIU students. Being that the campaign has reached $54 million of its $60 million goal, WIU is a very happy university. We are almost at our goal! And you can help. For more detailed information about the University Campaign, visit http://wiu.edu/giving/CapitalCampaign-10-11.pdf. If you’d like more information about donating to the campaign, visit http://www.wiu.edu/vpaps/foundation_and_development/.

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