Funds raised at LV
Posted Oct. 31, 2008

“Each year in the past 50 years, philanthropy has increased,” Jean Bjerke, vice president of university relations said. “Even after wars and natural disasters, for the most part, overall contributions have increased.”

Despite the ominous economy, Bjerke reports that the University of La Verne has received donations to the school totaling $1.5 million since July 1, a significant increase over last year’s gifts.

“$1.1 million of the sum is from current gifts this year, and the remaining $400,000 has been from the income of endowed scholarships,” Bjerke said.

Charles Bentley, UV director of public relations, believes that it is increasingly important to educate the population and to bring intellectual people into the workforce.

“I think that we’ll continue to see generosity despite the hard economic times,” said Charles Bentley, ULV director of public relations. “Donors understand the importance that education plays and will continue to support it.”

The last five years have included a comprehensive campaign of a fundraising goal of $42 million.

Of this total, $26.1 million has been contributed toward the construction of the Campus Center, Bjerke said.

“A majority of Americans do make contributions somewhere,” Bjerke said. “So ULV is competing with loyalty.”

Fundraising is collected from alumni, parents of students and businesses. ULV has recently increased the number of potential donors it reaches out to via telemarketing, direct mail and a newly launched online giving site.

“We keep in touch with all alumni and still feel we have a mutual sense of connection,” Bjerke said.

Mike Welch began working at ULV in April as the executive director for annual giving.

The 1968 alumnus understands the importance of outreaching, so he has been putting a system in place for alumni, parents and friends to increase operations and scholarships.

One fresh addition to giving has been Welch’s implementation of the La Verne Annual Fund, which began last summer.

“This is an umbrella fund that will receive gifts to support our greatest needs at the time,” Welch said.

The new initiative mails pledge cards to a wider donor recognition system, calling upon more individuals than ever before to make a contribution.

Each donor chooses where the gift is to be contributed. Alumni may feel they would like to donate to the department of their major or to the particular college they studied under.

“This year’s Annual Fund goal is $2 million to support scholarships,” Welch said.

“We emphasize scholarships as the greatest need,” Bjerke said. “But people can make whichever decision they would like regarding to their donation.”

There are numerous ways to donate to ULV and for various reasons.

Gifts may be made in small increments, anywhere from $1 to “gifts of future interest,” which are included in an individual’s trust or will and transfers to the University after the donor dies.

Permanent scholarships may be established through an endowment, which requires lots of money to invest in awards and scholarships for students, Bjerke said.

Capitol Campaign Gifts are the ones which benefit advancements such as the Campus Center, Welch said.

A less conventional way to contribute to the school includes naming a professorship.

The donation is applied toward salary and benefits of an academic position.

“The Fletcher-Jones Chair in the biology department (currently held by Jeff Burkhart) is an example of a position created from an endowment,” Bjerke said. “This is a great way to help advance the University and to be remembered for your contribution forever.”

According to Bjerke, the rate of modest donations remains relatively constant throughout the years. The large, multi-thousand dollar gifts are less frequent and harder to anticipate.

“An Honor Roll is printed every year to recognize everyone who gave gifts,” Bjerke said.

Those who donate $2,500 or greater are invited to special events, lunch-ins and the prestigious President’s Dinner.

Larger donations merit the donor’s name displayed in the plaza on a “paver,” or on an engraving on an inside wall or building. Donor signs are visible in the Wilson Library and in the Landis Academic Center.

“Since ULV is a private university, we are dependent on private support, since tuition alone does not cover the entire costs of operating a university.

Contributions can be made online at giving.ulv.edu.

Lesley Michaels can be reached at lesley.michaels@laverne.edu.

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