Foundation fund raisers make ISU more money

Matt Kuhns

The past few years have been good to the ISU Foundation.

The ISU Foundation is responsible for Iowa State’s private gift fund raising. In September, the foundation raised the goal of its current campaign from $300 million to $425 million after surpassing the original goal almost two years ahead of schedule.

ISU Foundation President Tom Mitchell said the foundation had hoped to raise $100 million between June 1998 and June 1999, and by December, it was already three-fourths of the way there.

“The environment could not be any better” for fund raising, Mitchell said.

ISU President Martin Jischke said the foundation has been successful because “people are grateful for the education they have received and hopeful for the future.”

He also credited the hard work of the fund raisers and the current strong economy.

Mitchell said charitable giving has gone up nationwide recently, as personal income is up and unemployment is low.

“[When] people have discretionary funds, they begin to look at their own philanthropic interests,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell said the specific mission of the ISU Foundation is “to secure and manage private gift support on behalf of ISU.”

He said that the ultimate goal of this fund raising, though, is to strengthen the university “so students can have an opportunity to learn in modern facilities, have access to the latest technology and [afford the cost of] their education.”

The goal of the current fund-raising effort, “Campaign Destiny: To Become the Best,” is even more ambitious.

Jischke said Campaign Destiny’s purpose is “to raise funds to move ISU closer to the dream of being the best land-grant university in the U.S.”

The money raised by the ISU Foundation is applied to several areas, Jischke said, including scholarships, building improvements, endowments for faculty chairs and new programs such as the Greenlee School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Mitchell said areas the ISU Foundation currently is focusing on include the College of Business Initiative, the Greenlee School, Reiman Gardens and a new Honors Program building.

The specific focus of fund-raising efforts shifts over time, Mitchell said, as unexpected opportunities arise.

He said about 85 percent of the money raised by the ISU Foundation comes from individuals, with corporations and private foundations accounting for the remainder.

Nearly all of the money is raised through active fund raising, including telemarketing, direct mail and estate planning, Mitchell said.

Campaign Destiny will end in June 2000 after which the ISU Foundation will work on smaller individual projects, he said.

Joel Uckelman, junior in philosophy, worked in the ISU Foundation’s calling center during the summer.

He said while most alumni he spoke with were quite receptive, he had little success calling recent graduates.

“It seemed a little weird to me to be calling people who were out of college a year or less; those people just don’t have a lot of money,” Uckelman said.

He added, however, that “they raised a lot of money; if it really was a bad strategy, I think they’d stop doing it.”

Karen Piconi, professor of English, also has worked with the ISU Foundation, raising money for the Catholic studies chair through St. Thomas Aquinas Church.

Piconi said the ISU Foundation impressed her with its vision and scope.

“They do a [great] service for the university,” she said, adding that the Ames community also benefits through improvements to Reiman Gardens and other public programs.