California State University Donations Hit Record High Figures
Feb. 11, 2009, The State Hornet — Despite the tight economy, donations to the California State Universities were $442 million for 2007-08, a 35 percent increase from the previous academic year.
Associate Vice President for University Development Rebecca Thompson said that last year Sacramento State received $17,987,769 in donations.
"Bequests are a very steady part of gifting at Sac State," Thompson said. She said that Many alumni defer their money and want their legacy to live on."
Public affairs representative for the CSU Erik Fallis said that the system is not expecting the same amount of donations as last year because the economy is not as strong and the wealth of donors, such as business owners and non-profit organizations has lessened.
Thompson said Sac State started off 2009 well, with donations reaching the halfway mark of the expected dollar amount.
"Given that people understand the value of higher education, we still have the best case to support students with their education. It helps the economy," she said.
Non-profit organizations and charities are nervous in this economy, Thompson said. People and businesses are waiting longer to make the decision of where and how much money will be donated.
Fallis said the donations are broken down into three areas.
"Nineteen million went to student scholarships, $24 million went to public service programs and $92.5 million went to academic initiatives, applied research, athletics and other current university objectives," Fallis said.
Several factors could have attributed to the increase in donation for the last year, Fallis said. The CSU believes one of the reasons is how the schools involved their local communities with the studies on campus.
A water resources department at CSU San Bernardino is one example of where the community needs a workforce that understands how to conserve water. Studies on water conservation help students who will join the farming workforce in the area.
"As the university system becomes more aware of its role in the state's economy, state universities are a ray of hope for students that want to come back to school to get additional skills for better jobs," Fallis said.
Thompson said Sac State has many events which tie the campus to the public, such as art openings, music events and football games. Thompson said that alumni who come back to the campus for sporting events and music events tend to be the ones who donate money to the school.
Last year a community council of 50 to 100 local businesses met with professors on campus to share ideas on how to run a small business."These types of events are important," said Thompson, "because they keep people coming to the campus who have an interest in the students' futures."
Fallis said lots of students are coming back to school to become nurses, engineers and scientists. He gave an example of how many scientists need to understand the background of a business and accounting. When a school is able to provide the necessary training in areas that are growing, large businesses and government foundations see the need to provide money to these programs.
"With all programs we try to create an inviting institution for the public to support and show the value of the institution to the community," he said.
Thompson said the Registrar's Office breaks down and analyzes all the various department needs. The office will create a report showing where money is needed.
The donations specifically given to individual scholarship programs are often very detailed. The office tries to keep the categories broad, so the money is used. If the qualifications are too specific, the money cannot be used and gets rolled over to the next year. A certain physics scholarship requires the applicant to be a junior with a 4.0 in physics. When the school is unable to fill the requirement, the scholarship rolls to the next year.