Foundation's "Promise Campaign" aims to raise $60 million goal over next seven years

The New College Foundation is in the quiet stage of its first comprehensive campaign, the New College Promise Campaign, which aims to collect $60 million over the next five years. They plan to allocate the money to six areas of focus including scholarships, unrestricted endowments, the international studies building, faculty and student research and travel, endowed professorships or chairs, and the Jane Bancroft Cook library. So far, the campaign has raised $11.2 million.

“The major goal of the campaign is to position the college to have more endowed funds and to not be so reliant on the ever changing landscape of government funding,” New College Foundation Vice President of Philanthropy and Director of the New College Promise Campaign Dennis Stover said. Stover believes these goals will build a strong campus for students and help attract more people to New College.

The campaign’s name originated from months of conversation between committee members. “The thought is that it’s the promise that we are going to be here for the future, for the long haul,” Stover explained.

The campaign began two years ago when a planning committee was formed. The committee talked to the college administration, community, departments and foundation to find out where money is needed and came up with a $120 million demand. They then contracted with an outside consulting firm, Community Counseling Service (CCS), to do a feasibility study. “They do feasibility studies all over the country and have a good track record with universities,” Stover said. “We use them to assess our audiences.” The CCS talked to the same audiences and narrowed down the committee’s goals to six main areas and $60 million.

There is now an Executive Committee which so far has ten members, including Committee Chair Felice Schulaner (’78), former state senator and Board of Trustees Chair Bob Johnson and President Gordon “Mike” Michalson. Schulaner is also currently serving on the New College Board and Foundation Board. “It’s nice to have an alum kind of pushing you forward,” Stover said. “Keeps us honest.” The Executive Committee will include more members once smaller committees are established.

“The largest gifts will come from people we don’t know,” Stover said. “We have to do a stellar job at selling the excellence of New College to new prospective large donors.” The second-largest base will probably be donated by alums. At this point, many alums are giving planned or future gifts such as bequests or trusts. “That’s going to be a big push with the charter class and advanced alums so they start to think that New College will be their charity of choice,” Stover said.

Within the Promise Campaign there will be several mini-campaigns. “The first launches this fall,” Stover explained. “It is the 101 Club, in honor of the hundred-and-first student who came to New College that first year, when there were only going to be a hundred students and the hundred and first just showed up. We are trying to fill it with 101 alums who are pledging a part of their bequests to New College.”

The Promise Campaign ends in 2016, but the Foundation hopes to have half of the $60 million within the first three years. “It’s a seven-year campaign, so if we keep this momentum then we’ll be well over our goal,” Stover said. “Normally in the first three years campaigns come up with about 50 to 60 percent of their resources.”

One way the committee plans to collect donations is through naming opportunities. The goal in a naming opportunity is for a donor to give half of what the structure cost to build. The new Academic Center costs $5 million to name. “That would be a nice thing to accomplish in 2011-2012 year.” Stover said. “That’s our goal. This year we are going to get that named. It’s one of Dr. Mike’s goals before he leaves too.”

The campaign is not restricted to donations from alums or local residents, so existing students can give to the campaign at their level as well. “We’re not just chasing the $5 million donors,” Stover said.

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