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Ohio State needs more donors to meet $2.5B fundraising goal

The “But For Ohio State” fundraising campaign is going to need to significantly increase the number of donors to meet its 2016 goal of $2.5 billion raised.
“Today Ohio State on an annual basis produces $110 million of total scholarship money per year,” said Robert Schottenstein, chairman of the OSU Board. “I think there’s a strong recognition within the university and certainly within the Board that they need to be higher to help keep tuition down and to help make Ohio State accessible, particularly to Ohioans.”
At the Advancement Committee Meeting, trustees discussed the progress of the “But For Ohio State” campaign and recognized Distinguished Service Award winners before heading into their executive session Thursday in the Longaberger Alumni House.
The “But For Ohio State” campaign is a fundraising effort that plans to amass $2.5 billion by 2016. The campaign has about three years to raise more than $1 billion, according to an Advancement Committee meeting agenda.
“Regarding the campaign, things are continually going very well,” said Michael Eicher, senior vice president for Advancement. “Raising $1.4 billion, I think, is a great precursor for some of the things to come.”
In order to meet its goals, the campaign will have to increase the number of annual donors by 49 percent, to 240,000 from 160,155, and double the yearly amount received through donation, to $427 million from $170 million. If goals are met and competitors progress at the rate they have in the past, by 2016 when the “But For Ohio State” campaign has ended, the university will be ranked No. 5 in total annual private receipts among public universities, according to committee meeting minutes.
Funds from the campaign will be split into several categories, all of which benefit the university. Financial aid is one of those categories. OSU produces $110 million for scholarships annually, and of that, $37 million is need-based and $73 million is merit-based, Schottenstein said. By the end of the “But For Ohio State” campaign the annual amount should have tripled, Eicher said over the weekend.
“One of the important priorities for this campaign is student financial aid. Fully $500 million scholarships in the campaign is dedicated to financial aid,” Eicher said.
The campaign plans to meet much of its $2.5 billion goal through events held in six different cities; Cincinnati, Cleveland, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. The promotional events are designed to inspire and motivate donor participation.
“There will be a follow-up the next day after people come to these events, all the way through the next 12 months,” said Assistant Vice President of OSU’s Regional Advancement Program Susan Halloran.
Eicher said that while all events will have a similar structure, they will be tailored for each location.
“We aren’t going to do cookie-cutter. We want to be true to the objectives, true to the goals of trying to engage folks, but an event in one location will be different from the other,” Eicher said. “They need to be appropriate for that area.”
Some students are encouraged by the university’s initiatives toward increasing the amount of total financial aid.
“When everybody is applying for the same scholarships, especially right out of high school, you know it’s really competitive, so any extra financial aid I think the university can give would definitely be beneficial for the students,” said Ronald Lechner, a fourth-year in chemical engineering. “I know when I become an (alumnus) I’m going to want to give back to the university, so it seems nice that they are trying to reach out to the alumni to do that.”
Schottenstein said the chance that the university will meet its campaign goals by 2016 is likely, but that the university should not lose sight of how meaningful the increases will be, especially for students’ financial aid.
“I think sometimes you get lost in the millions and the dollars,” he said. “It would be one thing if you were going from a $100 million to a $110 million, but we’re talking a doubling and tripling, and particularly on the need-based side, a very, very meaningful increase to those who need it most.”

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