September 12, 2008

What is a capital campaign?

Universities must continually raise funds to improve, remain up-to-date and compete in the higher education marketplace. Periodically, however, they conduct capital campaigns to elevate the fund-raising effort. A capital campaign is a highly focused fund-raising drive to meet specific programmatic goals and achieve an established dollar amount during a set period of time, often several years. The term “capital campaign” once connoted a campaign for buildings, but more realistically it now means an effort to meet many needs and is more accurately called a “comprehensive campaign.”

How does a capital or comprehensive campaign differ from an annual fund drive? How do the two relate to each other?

Annual fund drives raise money for ongoing operating expenses, everything from utility costs to library resources. A comprehensive campaign focuses on raising endowment and funding for capital projects. Whereas annual funds are spent to pay immediate bills, endowment funds are invested in such a way that the principal remains untouched, in perpetuity. Each year a portion of the interest generated by the investment goes to support purposes specified by the donor, so its use is “restricted” to those projects. Endowments provide economic stability and ensure that priority projects will remain funded and viable. The annual fund will continue to operate as an essential part of SMU’s fund-raising. The industry standard is that during a campaign, gifts to the annual fund count toward the campaign total, so all donors to SMU will be critical to the success of the campaign.

With an endowment of $1.4 billion, why does SMU need a capital campaign? Why can't it use its endowment funds for new programs and other goals?

Endowments already established at SMU are funding the programs for which they were created. Although SMU's endowment of $1.4 billion ranks 54th nationally among university endowments, we must attract additional endowment to fund new priorities and enhancements. A campaign is the best way to increase endowment.

Why is SMU having another campaign so soon after the successful campaign that concluded in 2002?

We want to keep moving forward. Thanks to many generous donors, The Campaign for SMU: A Time to Lead was a tremendous success, far exceeding its original goal of $300 million by raising $542 million. That campaign provided 80 new endowments for academic programs, 171 new student scholarships and awards, 28 new campus life initiatives, 16 new academic positions and 14 new or renovated facilities. Because SMU had not upgraded its campus facilities in several years, that campaign helped to bring SMU back up to its standard of excellence in educational facilities, as well as to increase endowment for new academic opportunities. We knew at the time, however, that SMU would need a subsequent campaign to focus more heavily on endowment for scholarships, faculty positions and academic programs, and to continue upgrading facilities not addressed in the last campaign. The Second Century Campaign will build on the remarkable success of “A Time to Lead” to seek a dramatic boost in academic quality.

With an unstable national economy and the highest inflation rate since 1981, why does SMU think now is a good time for a capital campaign?

Universities must plan for the long term, and the duration of a capital campaign – usually five years – helps to accommodate fluctuations in the economy. In addition, campaign pledges typically are paid over a period of time. A critical factor is that SMU is at a high point in its history, having generated a great deal of momentum in recent years, much of it sparked by the last campaign. Student quality is rising, the campus has never looked better, there is excitement among our constituents, we are approaching our 100th anniversary and we have attracted the unique resource of a presidential library. Our trustees and donors have affirmed that the time is right for SMU to make a bold move. We also have a great deal of faith in the strength of the Texas economy of which SMU is a part. 

What are the goals of The Second Century Campaign?

The campaign seeks endowment in three areas:

  • Student quality, including expanded scholarship programs and study abroad opportunities, new leadership development programs and increased support for graduate student research;
  • Faculty and academic excellence, including increasing endowed academic positions to 100, increasing by 50 percent annual external funding for research and sponsored projects, endowing selected departments and institutes, increasing graduate program resources, expanding undergraduate research and investing in academic facilities and technology;
  • The campus experience, including creating residential colleges or commons as part of a new sophomore housing requirement, expanding student services, enhancing competitiveness in athletics and enriching the environment of the main Dallas campus as well as SMU-in-Legacy and SMU-in-Taos.

How were the funding priorities and amounts determined?

Priorities are determined according to the goals and needs outlined in SMU’s Strategic Plan, the result of collaboration among the deans of the various schools, the administrative leadership of the University and members of the Board of Trustees.

What is the geographic scope of the campaign? Where will the funds be sought?

Because SMU alumni and donors are successful leaders and professionals in all areas of the world, the campaign will be international in scope. We will have special kick-off events in selected cities where we have particularly large concentrations of alumni – Houston, Atlanta, Los Angeles and New York City, as well as a campaign reception in Mexico City. But we are expecting broad participation among alumni everywhere. Our goal is to have 25 percent of all alumni contribute each year and to have 50 percent of all alumni contribute over the life of the campaign.

When and how will the Bush Library campaign be conducted? How will SMU keep its campaign from competing for the same donors?

Fund-raising for the Bush Library will be conducted by the Bush Foundation, a separate 501(c)(3) organization. Fund-raising for SMU is conducted by SMU. They are separate but supportive efforts – supportive in that donors unrelated to SMU who are attracted to the Bush Library project will become familiar with the University and may become interested in also supporting our goals and needs. SMU donors attracted to the Bush Library project will remain donors to the University as well. We expect friends of the President in Dallas to be supportive of the Bush Library, but the majority of the library funds will come from beyond the SMU donor community. In addition, both projects show a sense of momentum, and that is a key ingredient in raising funds for any effort. When the library opens, it will attract hundreds of thousands of visitors to campus who typically would not become familiar with us. That will be a tremendous opportunity for cultivating new donors and prospective students.

But, will any of SMU's funds raised end up going to the Bush library?

No, all funds raised by SMU will be for University projects as outlined in our case statement. However, some funding raised for the Bush Library eventually will benefit SMU. The legal agreement between the University and the Bush Foundation stipulates that, when fund-raising for the Bush Library moves beyond basic construction costs, a percentage of additional funds raised by the Foundation will be provided to SMU to develop programs related to the Presidential Center.

So, are any of the same people involved in both the Bush and SMU efforts?

SMU has appointed some representatives to the Bush Foundation Board. Of the 14 members of the Fund-raising Committee, four were appointed by SMU — President R. Gerald Turner, trustee Ray L. Hunt, trustee Jeanne L. Phillips and civic leader Fred Meyer; all served on the steering committee for SMU’s Bush Library proposal. For SMU’s Second Century Campaign, we have a 15-member Campaign Leadership Council and 39 steering committee chairs who will be focusing on the University’s funding needs, and hundreds of others will be involved as the campaign moves forward.

What is the time schedule for The Second Century Campaign? Why is it called The Second Century Campaign?

The quiet phase of the campaign began in December 2005. The kick-off events on Sept. 12, 2008, mark the beginning of the public phase of the five-year campaign. The Second Century Campaign is so named because it will coincide with the centennial of the University's founding, in 2011, and end two years before the 100th anniversary of its opening, in 2015. It will usher in our second century of achievement.

What is the campaign structure? Who is responsible for raising the money?

A 15-member Campaign Leadership Council is headed by Convening Co-Chair Gerald J. Ford and Co-Chairs Ruth Altshuler, Ray L. Hunt, Caren H. Prothro and Carl Sewell, all SMU trustees. The CLC has guided SMU in planning the campaign's quiet phase and will continue to oversee leadership gift solicitations and the campaign's volunteer organization, working with professional staff. Chaired by other volunteers, 16 campaign steering committees with 270 members will guide fund-raising efforts in SMU's individual schools and other units, as well as in major cities in the United States and abroad. Hundreds of volunteers, 327 to date, will play leadership roles in the campaign.

What is the role of SMU's Board of Trustees during the campaign?

The Board plays a critical role in providing leadership for the University as a whole and also provides guidance for campaign operations and policies.  The trustees help to determine Strategic Plan goals, a factor in establishing campaign goals. In addition to their own generous financial gifts, Board members assist in obtaining the support of others. As ambassadors of SMU, all Board members help to advance understanding and support of the University and its aspirations.

For more information:
Patti LaSalle, 214-768-7660,
Kent Best, 214-768-7673,


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