Donations continue despite economic drag

Donations to the university are slowly but steadily flowing in spite of the financial crisis looming across the country, a university official said, but nonprofit organizations on campus are having a harder time reaching their fundraising goals.

David Nolan, associate vice chancellor for development, said the majority of donations to the university come from individuals, including alumni, parents and friends of the university. Some donations also come from corporations, such as Alcon and BNSF Railway, he said.

“Corporation donations account for about 5.3 percent of TCU’s total philanthropic support,” Nolan said.

According to data from Giving USA Foundation, a foundation that publishes data and trends about charitable giving, the amount of charity giving for education falls an average of 1.9 percent during recession periods that last at least eight months. Philanthropic support for schools, colleges and universities will grow 5.3 percent for the academic year that began July 1, even though over the past 20 years, the average annual rate of growth for giving to education has been 7 percent, according to the Philanthropy Journal, a non-profit news bulletin.

“When the economy shows stress, whether it is a recession or not, giving may grow more slowly, but it is important to note that giving still grows,” Nolan said in an e-mail.

Nolan said total commitments to TCU from corporations are up about 250 percent this fiscal year compared to last.

According to the University Development office, corporate commitments are up $1,185,086 compared to this time last year. At the end of the fiscal year in September 2007, corporations had donated a total of $474,237. As of Sept. 30, 2008, corporate donations had reached $1,659,323.

Nolan said the university is not expecting a drop in fundraising. The worst case scenario would be slower growth, he said.

Brian Gutierrez, vice chancellor for finance and administration, wrote in an e-mail that his office has not seen a decrease in contributions to the university.

The university’s donation base may seem stable, but some organizations on campus that rely on donations are having a tough time fund raising.

Alex Pierce, the fundraising director for FrogHouse, a nonprofit Habitat for Humanity project that is led by students, said the organization is having problems raising money. FrogHouse builds a home for a Fort Worth family each year, and it relies on off-campus donations from alumni and students’ parents.

“We haven’t really received a lot of money coming in from the parents,” Pierce said.

He said it has been difficult to get people to donate to FrogHouse, and there has been a drop in donations in comparison to this time last year.

Pierce said FrogHouse raised a total of $42,000 last year; this year its goal is to raise $56,000. Currently, FrogHouse has raised $12,000. FrogHouse hopes to gain more donations through their letter writing campaign, which kicks off on Nov. 1. Its fundraising deadline is Dec. 1, Pierce said.

“It will be hard to raise the $56,000, but I don’t think it will be impossible,” Pierce said. “We are going to have to work three times as hard to earn the same amount of money they did last year.”

Dani Folks, vice president of Amnesty International, a campaign to educate students on the reality of human rights violations, said the organization is “definitely having to count pennies.”

Most of Amnesty International’s donations come from students, and the group’s financial problems are due largely to inflation, Folks said.

“We just have to be really careful and prioritize things when we spend money,” she said. “The current situation has made us more aware of the struggle.”