new resources and creativity to meet
The money is out there, experts say.
You just have to know where to look.
“This is something we have to figure
out,” says Kathleen Guy, vice president
for institutional advancement and
executive director of the foundation at
Northwestern Michigan College (NMC)
in Traverse City. “How do we operate and continue to be that economic
asset for our communities in this ‘new
For years, one way to find money was
simple: Ask for it. Easier said than done
in a down economy. The Council for
Aid to Education recently published
its Voluntary Support of Education
survey, which tallied a modest 6. 2 percent increase in giving during FY 2008
but predicted a decline as numbers become available for 2009. Likewise, the
Council for Advancement and Support
of Education predicted a 1. 7 percent
dip in giving for calendar year 2009, a
result of tighter budgets.
Many community colleges do not
have the same robust development
offices that four-year colleges maintain.
But some are beginning to recognize
the need. Guy’s NMC has been a leader
in this field for nearly 30 years, having
had a foundation and actively raised
funds, and brought in more than $42
million in donations in that time.
With an anticipated budget cut
between 10 percent and 20 percent
in 2011, and with enrollments having
grown by more than 18 percent this
spring, as compared to spring 2009,
NMC continues to use the Power of 10,
a fundraising campaign launched in
2009 that focuses on smaller gifts from a
larger number of donors. Rather than
focusing on wealthy alumni, the program
casts a wider net, asking former students
and donors of all income levels to give
$10 or more in support of the college.
“I think the economy just calls on us
as fundraising organizations to be more
entrepreneurial, to be more creative,”
says Guy of the initiative. Even small
donations, when multiplied by tens and
hundreds of willing alumni, can make a
big difference to a college.
That’s certainly been the case at NMC.
In its first year in 2009, the Power of 10
program boosted alumni participation by
a staggering 530 percent and is on pace
to match that figure in 2010.
“The idea is to go to those alums who
have never given to the college and
encourage them to make a very affordable entry-level gift,” Guy explains.