July 7, 2009
Thanks to your support, SMU’s momentum keeps going. This spring, the University announced an increase in the number of donations over the same period last year, despite the economic downturn. The gifts contributed to a strong finish for the fiscal year, which ended May 31, SMU officials said. And total giving topped $100 million for the first time in history.
That success was attributed to a combination of significant leadership gifts and an increased focus on annual giving designed to encourage the broadest participation by alumni, parents and friends in The Second Century Campaign. Donors said they understood the added importance of contributing at a time of financial uncertainty.
“In the last year SMU has had a real increase in the need for assistance to help people stay in school,” said Anne Veale Pogson ’65, explaining her decision to add to the size of her gift for the fiscal year. Pogson has contributed annually for eight years. “Making scholarships available is especially important now. And I want to support SMU as it continues to strengthen its academic programs.”
SMU Alumni Board member Christopher Ainsworth ’94 increased his contribution in response to an alumni board scholarship challenge created by Board of Trustees Chair Carl Sewell ’66. Ainsworth also played a key role in organizing the response of alumni board members to ensure that the challenge was met.
“SMU needs to continue providing opportunities to students and faculty,” he said. “To the extent possible in a difficult environment, people need to keep giving, whatever the amount.”
Efforts to broaden the campaign also had an impact on current students, who set a new record for undergraduate contributions.
“It’s gratifying to see the growth in the number of donors who care so deeply about supporting the University,” said President R. Gerald Turner. “This means that, even during the downturn, we continue to have strong momentum, and our alumni and friends are repeating their yearly gifts.”
Annual giving has an immediate impact and helps meet the needs of SMU’s many areas of excellence that require ongoing support. Yearly giving also affects the University’s rise in prominence, because alumni participation rates are a factor in determining national rankings. As part of the focus on annual giving, the University has established two societies honoring SMU’s generous and consistent annual donors. President’s Associates recognizes donors who contribute $1,000 or morecumulatively during a fiscal year, June 1 – May 31. Hilltop Society honors SMU donors who give for two or more years consecutively.The societies are intended to encourage participation by donors at every level, from students making their first gifts to longtime contributors. University officials also credited other initiatives with supporting end-of-fiscal-year campaign goals, such as direct mail and telephone solicitations, as well as the Horsepower Challenge, created to generate 2,000 additional gifts.