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The Daily Tar Heel

Elon surpasses $100 million fundraising goal despite economic climate

Elon University surpassed its largest-ever fundraising goal of $100 million this year despite the state’s economic troubles.

Leo Lambert, president of Elon, announced Friday during the university’s homecoming weekend that its Ever Elon campaign has raised more than $105 million since June of 2006. Elon will continue to include donations made before Dec. 31 in the campaign’s fundraising total.

The previous campaign lasted from 1994 to 2001 and raised $46.7 million, surpassing a goal of $40 million.

“I think the most remarkable thing about this campaign was that it happened during a time of great economic distress,” said Dan Anderson, director of university relations.

“People believe in the future of the university, and they feel it’s a good investment of their personal resources — to provide the financial support the university needs to thrive. I think in a lot of ways people were making investments in the future of young people.”

About $33 million of the donations will fund 204 new scholarships, Anderson said. Of Elon’s 5,225 undergraduate students, 73 percent receive some form of financial aid.

Instead of contributing the money to the school’s operating costs and lowering tuition rates for all students, Anderson said the funds will be targeted toward merit- and need-based scholarships.

Tuition and fees at Elon for the 2010-11 school year were $26,827, about a 4 percent increase in tuition from the previous year, compared to a 5.25 percent increase before that, Anderson said.

Jim Piatt, vice president for university advancement at Elon and head of the Ever Elon campaign, said one-on-one meetings with prospective donors tend to be the most effective method of fundraising.

Piatt also said the university utilized social media to encourage young alumni to make gifts, resulting in a tremendous growth in online gifts in the past two years through Facebook and Twitter. In March 2011, 13 percent of Elon’s young alumni gave gifts as a result of social media advertisements.

Piatt said he expects donations might decline slightly after the Ever Elon campaign ends, though not back to pre-2006 levels.

“I think one of the great things about any campaign is that it gives you a chance to really encourage new donors to come along,” Piatt said.

Private fundraising at UNC also consists of donations that are aimed at creating new scholarships instead of lowering tuition costs, said Scott Ragland, director of development communications at UNC.

“Because most gifts are restricted, we won’t necessarily raise funds to offset any tuition increases,” he said. “We will continue to raise funds for student support.”

In 2011, 53 new merit and need-based scholarship funds were created through fundraising efforts, Ragland said. Overall, the University has 1,415 scholarship funds.

The University has raised $277 million in gifts so far this year, the second-highest total in the school’s history, Ragland said. The University’s highest fundraising total was about $300 million in 2008.

“Gifts typically support students, faculty, research, building needs and strategic initiatives,” Ragland said.

Contact the State & National Editor at state@dailytarheel.com.

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