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Goal: Raise a million dollars

Community members from all areas of the University gathered early yesterday morning for an event that volunteers say has become an asset to the University.

The 2005 Family Campaign kickoff yesterday in the Union included a breakfast for volunteers and discussion focused around campaign strategies. The campaign, launched during the 1998-1999 academic year, is a group effort to raise money from within the University.

The campaign’s motto, “Support a Scholar,” is a reminder of one of the many ways they can give back to BGSU.

The third annual kickoff is to raise awareness about giving to the University, said Amy Edgar Davis, director of annual giving.

“Mainly it’s to increase participation and the level of support in dollars from our faculty, staff and retirees,” Davis said. “That sends a really strong message to donors outside the University. When they see that more than half of our internal group is supporting the University, it tells them that there is something good going on here.”

Each year since its inception, the amount of donations received for the campaign has continued to grow, Davis said.

This year the goal is to have 55 percent participation, with hopes of beating last year’s pledges and gifts amounting to $935,000. Another aim is to raise the total to $1 million, Davis said.

Before the campaign, participation in giving to the University was at 23 percent, compared to 53.7 percent for the 2003-2004 year of the campaign.

Following a welcome from USG President Alex Wright at the kickoff, Executive Vice President Linda Dobb gave opening remarks to thank volunteers for their continual involvement with the campaign and to encourage them in their work on the campaign this year.

Dobb reinforced this year’s goal to raise $1 million dollars.

“It’s going to be an absolutely incredible year for all of you,” she said. “I think what I see out there are so many people who believe in that we’re doing and that’s incredible.”

An important aspect of the campaign is those who give are part of the University, Wright said.

“The campaign shows we have a strong in-house foundation,” he said. “It gives people the opportunity to make a direct impact through scholarships to students.”

Tim Koder, director of major gifts in the department of alumni and development, echoed Wright’s views.

“Our whole purpose and the reason the University exists is to educate students, and we are fortunate to be employed by an institution with a noble cause,” Koder said. “It’s a wonderful way for us to turn around and give something back. It’s through the private support that the University grows and excels and becomes the institution that it has.”

The kickoff also included words of encouragement from Marcia Sloan Latta, associate vice president for University Advancement and director of Development and Campaign Director, and Kerm Stroh, co-chair of the building dreams campaign and a former member of the Board of Trustees.

Before the Family Campaign started there was no organized employee giving effort, said Sloan Latta, who helped to start the first campaign in 1998.

“There are so many areas here on campus that are worthy of private support and certainly the need is there so I thought if we had an organized effort a lot more people would be encouraged to give,” she said. “And in fact that’s exactly what has happened.”

Davis also feels that University giving was not thought of as much before the campaign began.

“It was started because this was a sort of untapped area here,” she said. “We really hadn’t done much for faculty and staff and saw this as an area that needed attention.”

With budgets tight across the state, it is an opportune time to give to the University, Sloan Latta said.

“I think employees realize that there has never been a better time to give than now,” she said. “Private giving has never been more important than it is now.”

Gifts and pledges go to many areas of the University depending on each person’s preference, Sloan Latta said.

“Everybody can choose the project or area they wish to support,” she said. “We say choose what is meaningful to you, whether it’s an area you work in or not.”

Donations can go to a wide variety of areas of the University such as for student scholarships.

“I want to let the volunteers know how the scholarship that I have is helping me get an education and how important it is to me and so they realize the impact they’re having,” said Alumnae Laureate Scholar Jamie Hoover.

For Anna Hoyt, secretary in the department of alumni and development, WBGU and the University Greenhouse are areas that receive her annual donation. Hoyt likes to give to areas of the University that are significant to her and her family.

“I think [giving] comes from the heart, whatever is meaningful to me,” Hoyt said. “It has a lot to do with what has impacted my life and what I feel here at the University is very important for students. After all, they are what make the University. If it weren’t for students, we wouldn’t be here.”

Other areas that have received donations in past campaigns include program funds, Falcon Club and capital improvements, such as Union renovations.

Also gifts can come in any size, Sloan Latta said.

“The main thing is we encourage people to participate and they can give at a variety of levels. Whatever is comfortable for them,” she said.

Any gifts made between July 1, 2004 and June 30, 2005 will be counted in the 2005 total, which will be announced this July, Davis said.

Currently the campaign has over 85 volunteers, composed of University faculty, staff and retirees, Davis said.

“A lot of our volunteers help to recruit others into that role or help to identify other people. It’s a way of getting them informed and energized about the campaign,” she said. “We try to have representatives from as many departments as possible.”

“Family Campaign over the last five or six years has gotten, I think, a really good reputation of being a successful effort on campus. People like to be identified with something that is successful and I think we have a really good core group of volunteers for many years and they help other people from campus,” Davis said.

Volunteers promote the family campaign to their department and help get their department to a higher participation level, Davis said.

“That is what a lot of our volunteers strive for is to have 100 percent participation and to have higher participation than they had last year,” she said.

Throughout the year, a group of 19 higher level volunteers meet, plan the campaign and recruit volunteers, Davis said.

A little over 20 departments had 100 percent participation last year, Davis said. The main goal is to support the University and students here, she said.

“Faculty and staff — because they are on the inside and see day to day the workings of the University, their support means even more,” Davis said. “Their support sends a really important message, that not only do they give their time and their talents on the job but they’re willing to make a financial contribution as well.”

Many realize that a group effort to support the University is really powerful.

“I’ve always been a supporter of BGSU and active in organizations and I thought it would be an opportunity to try to encourage some of my coworkers to support the University as well,” said Linda Synder, administrative assistant in the office of Student Financial Aid.

A strongpoint of the campaign is really the volunteers, Davis said.

“It’s really driven by the volunteers and that’s what has made it successful in all the years that we have been growing,” she said. “What has been growing is the number of our volunteers and the quality of our volunteers and that’s what is important to me.”

Editor’s Note: Some departments are still in need of a volunteer representative. If you are interested in representing your department please call Amy Edgar Davis at (419) 372-7699 or e-mail [email protected].

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