A biweekly publication for faculty and staff

Fundraising Hits Five-Year High

November 18, 2014

As I enter my third year at UC Merced, it is exciting to witness how our campus continues to flourish and evolve. It is also very gratifying for me to see the way our Development and Alumni Relations (DAR) program continues to improve and increase its contributions to the campus. 

However, it occurs to me that much of our work is focused externally, and many of our campus colleagues might not be aware of the many advances that have resulted from our maturing DAR organization.

I would like to share some highlights of our progress:

Fundraising success – Fundraising has continued to grow and the 2013-14 totals were the highest in five years.  More importantly, this year we introduced clear metrics including a “moves management” system for our development staff members that will ensure our fundraising efforts are focused and effective. Some specific examples include major progress with our graduate student fellowship initiative, record-breaking fundraising totals for our Ma Kelley golf tournament and a nearly 50 percent participation rate in our Senior Class Gift program.

Student and alumni relations – Although we have limited and youthful student and alumni populations, my office has been steadfast in building a foundation for future support from these important constituencies. These efforts included the further development of our Student Alumni Association, which engages current UC Merced students in the alumni-relations process, the enhancement of our Alumni Association organization and a significant investment in improving our Senior Class Gift campaign. Each of these initiatives is designed to create a true culture of philanthropy amongst our students and alumni.

Chancellor engagement – We have remained vigilant in identifying opportunities to engage Chancellor Leland in activities that advance our development and alumni relations goals. As a result, Chancellor Leland participated in more than 50 DAR events, meetings, dinners, etc., over the 2013-14 academic year. These activities had a significant positive impact on the many relationships we are building to advance this institution.

Commencement 2014 – After spending the previous year refining the organization, planning and producing our campus’s premiere academic event, it was heartening to see our largest commencement weekend to date come off extremely well. Crowd management, parking, program execution and speakers were all excellent and we received rave reviews. Although this was a DAR-led activity, the success was clearly the result of a campuswide effort and we are extremely appreciative.

Community involvement – In the continued belief that a UC Merced presence is important for local community relations and that community members will be more likely to support a campus that is giving back to the area, DAR remains quite active in Merced. This includes membership in Rotary Clubs and the Merced Boosters, the Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Merced program and active support of the local arts including the Merced Symphony, Playhouse Merced and the Multicultural Arts Center. These latter examples have also been excellent means of building and strengthening individual relationships with our trustees, donors and prospects.

University Friends Circle – DAR also supports the University Friends Circle (UFC), which is an active town-and-gown organization that has clearly demonstrated its full potential over the past year. The group’s programming has highlighted campus leadership and academic research, and its fundraising has benefited our students and student organizations. Furthermore, through the UFC, we have identified and engaged many new prospects that contribute to a more robust donor pipeline.

As we look to the future, our 2014-15 goals include implementing both an annual donor-recognition event and a strategic regional-engagement plan. 

We will also introduce additional program enhancements in the areas of major-gift-pipeline development, planned giving, annual giving and a more comprehensive stewardship plan that will ensure our donors feel properly thanked, informed and engaged.

In closing, I want to thank all of you who have played supporting roles in these many initiatives.

Working together, I’m confident this is going to be another very successful year.