Originally published in The Mac Weekly.
Step Forward, the capital campaign to raise $150 million for Macalester,
has reached its goal two months ahead of schedule. Despite the success,
more challenges await the campaign before the looming Dec. 31 deadline.
President Brian Rosenberg announced the success at an impromptu
reception hosted by the Macalester Board of Trustees last Friday. Among
those invited were members of Macalester’s Advancement staff, who
spearheaded the capital campaign.
“It certainly feels great,” said Tommy
Bonner, the Vice President for Advancement and a key driving force
behind the Step Forward campaign.
The final donation of $100,000 was
contributed by Mardene and Dick Eichhorn, the co-chairs of the last
capital campaign ending in 2001.
Despite this success, other targets
remain to be met. These include increasing alumni participation from
63.5 percent to 65 percent (about 350 more donors); raising $2.3 million
more for the Janet Wallace fine arts project; and securing as much
funding as possible for need-based financial aid, according to Bonner.
The campaign has raised $22 million for Janet Wallace and $36 million
for financial aid to date. The largest challenge now will be finishing
the fundraising for Janet Wallace, Rosenberg said at the October faculty
“That last 10 percent [of Janet Wallace fundraising] is going
to be the hardest money in the campaign,” he said.
The Step Forward
campaign faced serious challenges in the past. Economic uncertainty
caused potential donors to hesitate before giving in 2009 and 2010, and
donations dropped from previous years as the recession took its toll.
“Our greatest challenge remains the sluggish economy combined with wild
fluctuations in the financial markets,” Bonner said. “Donors willing to
donate large amounts of their net worth do so because they are confident
they and/or their children will not need the funds. Given the lack of
stability in the markets that becomes less certain; I’ve heard from some
donors who are having to provide resources to adult children who find
themselves unemployed and in the job market.”
Tax law is another source
of hesitation as federal deficit negotiations hang like a dark cloud
over large-scale giving.
“I’ve also heard from donors their concern that
the proposed elimination of the charitable income tax deduction as a
component of the federal deficit reduction plan will impact their level
of contribution,” Bonner said. “The ideal environment in which to raise
funds is one of financial stability combined with certainty in tax law.”
Still, Step Forward has managed to thrive despite the challenges. After
two years of private fundraising, the capital campaign went public in
October 2008. The campaign began with a grand kickoff at Macalester
College, followed by a tour soliciting donations from alumni in cities
from across the nation. Millions of dollars raised early in the campaign
financed Markim Hall, the Leonard Center and the Annual Fund.
point most sources of large donations have been exhausted. The majority
of incoming donations range from $10,000 to $50,000, but there are
exceptions. One recent fundraising coup was the Edens Chair in Global
Health, a $2 million endowed professorship established by Wesley and
Lynn Edens. Bonner describes the state of the campaign as a senior
returning from spring break.
“Based on grades and coursework graduation
is a certainty,” he said. “But there are still classes to attend, papers
to write and work to get done before the celebration can get underway.”
Once Step Forward wraps up, there’s more fundraising on the horizon.
Bonner said that the “number one priority” will be “strengthening the
Annual Fund” in order to help ease the college through an upcoming
budget crunch. Additionally, Bonner said that discussions are underway
between Provost Kathleen Murray and a team of architects about the
design of Phase 2 of the Janet Wallace Fine Arts Center, which will
renovate and expand the Art and Theatre departments. Bonner also said
that donors will “always be encouraged to donate toward the endowment
for financial aid.”