University donations rise, donors fall


Donations are up, but donors are down. Good news, bad news or just plain strange?

NIU vice president for university development Tom Mitchell says the figures in the 1993 report on university donations show a lot of promise.

While the amount of money NIU received from donations last year increased, the number of actual donors decreased just as substantially.

The report shows the total number of donors was down from 19,827 in fiscal year 1992 to 17,756 for fiscal year 1993. However, the dollar value of the gifts totaled $2,094,175 up 9 percent from the $1,920,187 received the previous year.

“We are greatly pleased with the overall picture and we are confident this success will continue into the 1993-94 year,” Mitchell said.

The report also shows value of the gifts donated by faculty and staff during the last fiscal year increased by 26 percent and the alumni contributions rose by 24 percent. However the number of faculty and staff who actually donated money was down.

Last year, there were 1,557 faculty and staff donors giving a total of $95,138. This year, there were only 1,318 contributors, but their gifts totaled $119,709.

In other words, the number of donors is down by over 200 people, yet the value of their gifts rose almost $25,000 from the previous fiscal year.

Likewise, the number of alumni donors is down by almost 1,500 people from last year. But again, the dollar value of alumni donations managed to increase over $140,000 this year.

Another interesting fact about alumni donations is that in 1992 there were 21 gifts totaling over $5,000 or more. In 1993 there were 34 gifts of $5,000 or more.

“Alumni were very generous this past year,” Diane Reynolds, director of annual giving said. “People really want to support NIU and its mission.”

“This sends a signal to everyone that the faculty, staff and alumni of Northern Illinois University are very generous donors to those programs they deem worthy,” Mitchell said. “It is an extreme accomplishment and a credit.”

Mitchell said it is important to understand that faculty, staff and alumni were not the only groups to have an increase in funds donated. But other groups suffered a loss in the number of donors too.

For instance, in 1992, the 1,065 corporation and foundation donations amounted to $736,528. But in 1993, there were only 971 corporate donations that added up to $743,490.

Corporations and other company giving went up by 1 percent and the other category including friends and miscellaneous donors also had an increase of only 1 percent.

NIU donations from corporations increased despite a drop nationally of 3.8 percent in corporate donations to universities, Mitchell said.

The last category focused on by the annual fund includes all parents. This was the only category that experienced a disappointing decrease in donations of 8 percent. The amount of donors in this area was also down, but unlike the other categories, so were the total value of the contributions.

“More effort must be put into the parent section of our program,” Mitchell said.

Despite the decrease in the number of actual donors, Mitchell didn’t hesitate to cite the dollar figures as evidence that last year was a succesful year for fundraising.

“There were several factors contributing to the recent success of the annual fund program,” Mitchell said. The three main factors include faculty, department chairs and deans. “They do a great job communicating with their alumns and constituants,” Mitchell said. “People invest in strength.”

Another reason cited for the success has to do with the construction of the new engineering buildings. “Although the new construction was not stressed in the annual fund the alumni knew about it,” Reynolds said.

Mitchell said not many people specifically gave money to be used in the construction project, but the fact that it is occurring is positive and people want to help. “The construction sends a message that Northern is continuing to grow,” Mitchell said.

There are no set goals for amounts of money to raise each year. The total number of donors fluctuates every year making this hard to do. “Working goals and priorities are set internally,” Mitchell said.

Some of these internal goals include the re-engineering of the fund raising division. The first phase would be to stabalize the number of donors and a second phase would then try to increase this base.

Fundraising at NIU operates on a fiscal year running from July 1 through June 30, Mitchell said, adding that people tend to donate more of the private gifts in November and December.

Reynolds said all donors contributing to the annual fund can specify what they want the money to be used for. On a card sent to potential donors each year, the donor can check one of four options.

The categories are scholarships, library need, where the need is greatest or “other”, which can be applied toward whatever area the donor wants to contribute to.

“Quite a few people give gifts to ‘where the university needs them most’,” Reynolds said. However, she said, 90 percent of the gifts in excess of $1000 are restricted to certain areas.