Dan Saftig, president of the Iowa State University Foundation, is assisting the  university in raising $800 million for its comprehensive campaign. Photo by Amanda Ripp
Dan Saftig, president of the Iowa State University Foundation, is assisting the university in raising $800 million for its comprehensive campaign. Photo by Amanda Ripp

A university could survive without study-abroad programs, entrepreneurship activities, endowed chairs and student scholarships.

But these opportunities do make a difference, and they're provided to Iowa State University through philanthropy.

"Donors provide that margin of excellence," said Iowa State University Foundation President Dan Saftig. "With their money, we can enrich the educational experience. It is not used to fill a gap that the state does not provide. Donors do not make gifts to pay the light bill. They make gifts to enrich the Iowa State experience."

With the public kickoff of the comprehensive "Campaign Iowa State: With Pride and Purpose" last fall, fund-raising records are being set at the university.

The total fund-raising production, including gifts and future commitments, for the first nine months of fiscal year 2008 (from July 1 to March 31) was approximately $120.8 million.

This topped the previous record of $112 million in nine months.

"Despite the economy, our donors have momentum and confidence," Saftig said.

At the start of the campaign, ISU had 75 endowed faculty positions. As of April, the university had 120. Iowa State hopes to double the original amount and reach 150 endowed positions after the completion of the campaign.

ISU officials publicly launched the campaign, which officially began on July 1, 2003, on Oct. 19 last year. It is scheduled to conclude on Dec. 31, 2010.

As of April 23, the campaign has raised $575.7 million in gifts and commitments en route to its ultimate goal of $800 million.

Money raised through the campaign will be allocated to provide four types of support at Iowa State.

A piece of the pie

Determining the priorities for the campaign was an "extensive process," which involved the entire campus from deans to the faculty and staff, Saftig said. The ISU Foundation received more than 500 proposals.

"The amount would have been billions of dollars," he said. "We identified the top priorities and married those with the reality of what we could generate from donors."

Student support will receive the highest percentage of the $800 million total, about $235 million. Around 4,100 ISU students currently receive privately funded scholarships, and proceeds from Campaign Iowa State will help expand the school's merit and need-based financial aid to students in all programs.

Faculty support will be allotted $215 million so the university can offer more endowed chairs, professorships and fellowships to attract scholars.

"(Endowed positions) are important for recruiting and retaining faculty," Saftig said. "Great professors are highly sought after."

Program support will receive $195 million to add academic and out-of-classroom programs and campus organizations.

Facilities support has been allocated $155 million to fund major academic and athletic building and renovation projects to attract students and faculty.

As of April 23, the $575.7 received thus far million had been divided this way: student support had received $178 million in gifts and commitments, program support had been allotted $171.2 million, faculty support had obtained $128.9 million and facilities support had received $97.6 million.

Priority breakdown

Within each of the categories, the funds are divided between departments, colleges, programs, libraries, buildings, museums and more.

As a comprehensive campaign, the money from Campaign Iowa State will be used to support "everything from the university's museums to its college of engineering," Saftig said.

The fund-raising goal for ISU's College of Engineering is $275 million. The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences has set a goal to receive $155 million. The Department of Intercollegiate Athletics is hoping to receive $77 million. Sixty-five million dollars marks the goal for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The College of Business' goal totals $42 million.

Benefits and amenities (such the establishment of an endowed deanship, plans for a new chemistry facility and construction of a new alumni building) are already being realized through the funds and support generated by Campaign Iowa State.

Last fall, ISU announced its first endowed deanship for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences through a $3 million gift from an anonymous donor. The endowment will provide perpetual financial support for the college. The university hopes to create additional endowed deanships.

This fall, work is expected to begin on a biorenewables research laboratory, the first wing in a larger biorenewables complex. The Iowa Board of Regents gave final approval to plans for the laboratory building in February.

The Agricultural Engineering Machine Shed and Industrial Education I building will be demolished to begin construction of a new chemistry facility this summer.

Expanding fund raising

ISU began raising money in the 1960s for the Iowa State Center, but it was not until the 1980s that private donors began contributing on a large scale to public universities.

"Private universities have been raising money for decades; public universities did not enter it in earnest until the 1980s," Saftig said. "(The public) had the impression the state was taking care of it all and (therefore) why should individuals have to pay?"

Over the last 25 years, that has changed.

Iowa State's first comprehensive campaign, called Partnership for Prominence, ran from 1988 to 1993 and raised $214.5 million.

Campaign Destiny, the school's second comprehensive campaign, raised $458.6 million from 1995 to 2000.

Campaign Iowa State: With Pride and Purpose has already received more gifts and commitments than the total from the previous campaign.

When the campaign launched publicly, almost 100,000 donors had already contributed.

More than 54,000 donors committed $106 million to ISU during the fiscal year 2007 (July 1, 2006 to June 30, 2007), a 15 percent increase over the $92 million raised the previous year.

Of those 54,000 donors, nearly 20,000 lived outside the state.

"It is an economic development opportunity," Saftig said. "More than 60 percent of our donors live outside of Iowa. ... We are importing funds."

Donors contributed $38 million in gifts and commitments in fiscal year 2003, and the totals have increased every year (including this fiscal year, which had already surpassed the 2007 amount at nine months).

"(Funds from the campaign) will transform the Iowa State experience," Saftig said, "and lift the university at all its corners."