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 January 7, 2000 Volume 7, Number 8


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from HRD

Letters to
the Editor




Donations to University reveal a wealth of stories

By Robert James

There are thousands of untold stories at the U of S, each as unique as the person behind it.

And often the stories are personal, heartfelt and genuine – especially when it comes to explaining why people give gifts to the university.

Gifts such as financial support for a scholarship or bursary, gifts-in-kind ranging from real estate to farmland, donations outlined in wills and bequests, or life insurance policies which include the University as a beneficiary.

Emerging today, is a group of leaders who have chosen to support the U of S not only now, but for many years to come.

It’s estimated our maturing population holds about $2- to $3-trillion in assets.

The U of S is benefiting from the generosity of thousands of donors who have included the University not only in their annual financial plans, but also in their estate planning.

And they have evolved into a critical component of present and future success for the U of S.

Many are alumni, and all are friends.

"I wanted to give back to the U of S," says Marion Younger, former student and faculty member.

In 1926, Younger was awarded a $60 scholarship, which paid for two years of tuition to the College of Arts and Science.

It was a huge break for a woman looking to fulfil a dream in the 1920s – good fortune that Marion Younger has never forgotten.

Recently, with a $50,000 gift in hand, she created the Younger Scholarship Fund, to be awarded to a young woman who has displayed leadership qualities.

This year, for the first time, that endowment gift was awarded.

A medical student received $2,200 to help offset the costs of her college supplies.

Younger explains, "this student – who is heavily involved in volunteering and helping others while trying to maintain her marks – to me is a well-deserving recipient.

"She not only shows strong leadership skills but is a deeply caring individual."

Donations, large or small, provide vital support to students, programs and colleges.

Whether the gift helps to create scholarships and bursaries, goes to support research, or is used to refurbish an aging building, donors have a say in how and where their gift is used.

Doug Clark, Director of Planned and Major Gifts, says "Some people ask that scholarships, bursaries etc. are named after Aunt Martha, my grandparents, or someone who helped me.

"So part of his or her motivation could be to recognize someone by putting a name on the contribution. The gifts are definitely, donor-driven."

When it comes to major gifts of $10,000 to several million dollars, many of the donors already have established a long history of involvement with the University.

They have either sat on advisory committees, given annually through the alumni program, benefited from on campus research or perhaps, were a farmer who sought and received valuable growing tips through the College of Agriculture.

Either way, these donors have often made up their minds well in advance to provide a substantial gift to the University as thanks.

Clark recalls, "Last year, we received a very significant contribution from a husband and wife who attended University from rural Saskatchewan.

"They understood that it’s more expensive to attend school from rural Saskatchewan, because of living expenses and more."

So they created a fund, says Clark, "a couple of million dollars, that provides scholarships to students who live outside Saskatoon.

Clark’s team gives clients investment options, determines who will govern their donation and guides them on the tax implications before brokering the deal to effectively and efficiently meet the donor’s goals.

It’s a process, which could take anywhere from several days to years to finalize details.

People who may be shy about stepping forward with a substantial gift can have their lawyer or accountant to act as a go-between.

The university will give professionals the tools and information necessary to offer their clients guidance on making a major, long-term donation.

Also, each year, the U of S directly contacts about 35,000-50,000 alumni for donations of up to $1,000 each to support short-term University projects.

The development officer in charge of the Alumni Fund, Kim Robertson, says, "We do an annual mail campaign and telemarketing out of our office.

"Current students phone alumni and it’s a very nice bond."

This year, U of S Pres. Peter MacKinnon is the Alumni Fund Chair.

With his influence, it’s hoped more alumni will get involved in the University – and it also gives the new President the opportunity to become familiar with people who give to the U of S on a regular basis.

Robertson explains, "Our theme this year is ‘A time to Flourish’, and it’s really focusing on a lot of the new things happening on campus."

Robertson remembers that, when contacted last year, many alumni were concerned about the condition of University buildings and rising tuition fees.

"So we wanted to advertise innovation – a time to flourish.

"A synchrotron was coming to campus, we have a new president and some of the buildings are starting to be renewed."

Alumni donated more than $750,000 last year to the U of S.

Although, donors ask for little in return, their gifts do not go unrecognized.

Bev Cooper, Program Assistant for Planned and Major Gifts, explains, "there are various kinds of recognition – for example, there’s the president’s club, which is an annual club. It’s memberships change from year-to-year, and it’s people who give a thousand dollars or more in any given year."

The Walter Murray Society marks gifts in excess of $10,000, says Coopers.

"There are 400 members in this elite group. So those are people who are also of interest to us because they’ve shown a continued interest in helping the University."

Often, donors are given the opportunity to meet with recipients whom they have helped, and recipients are encouraged to write thank-you letters.

Students interested in learning what scholarships or bursaries are available can contact the Scholarships and Awards office.

If you’re planned a major gift or donation to the Alumni Fund, you can call up the newly revamped website: www.alumni.ca.

Doug Clark concludes: "Giving is a very personal thing and so are the reasons for giving. Everyone has a story – and that’s what makes this so fascinating."

See related story, Technology helps U of S keep in touch with thousands of alumni

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