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ISSUE 116 VOL 12 PUBLISHED 2/28/2003

Funds exceed record

By St. Olaf News Bureau
Executive Editor

Friday, February 28, 2003

St. Olaf College has raised $144.9 million, surpassing the goal for its four-year comprehensive campaign, President Christopher M. Thomforde announced at a recent campus celebration.

It was the largest fundraising effort ever undertaken by a Lutheran college or university, according to St. Olaf Vice President of Advancement Gordon D. Soenksen.

The college raised nearly double its previous campaign, which ended in 1990 and generated $74 million in contributions.

The goal of the recent campaign, which ended Dec. 31, 2002, was $125 million.

The funds already have allowed the college to add three significant structures: Buntrock Commons, the student and community center that opened in 1999; Dittmann Center, the remodeled student center that is now home to the art and dance departments; and Tostrud Center, a state-of-the art fitness and recreational facility that opened in September 2002.

In addition to the capital raised for these buildings, another $70 million was raised for the endowment and $43 million was earmarked for current programs.

“The generosity of our donors will create a lasting legacy for future generations at St. Olaf,” Thomforde said. “We have a unique calling to develop the whole person in mind, body and spirit. We offer an extraordinary educational experience, both inside and outside the classroom, which opens the mind and liberates the spirit.”

Soenksen called the campaign an anomaly in college fundraising.

“We had overwhelming success because we raised money the old-fashioned way – by engaging volunteers,” he explained. “

Most colleges today focus professional fundraising staffs alone on raising major capital gifts.

“In our volunteer-led campaign, people with a great passion for the college reached out to the college community for support. St. Olaf has been a strong influence in their lives, the lives of their children or, very often, the lives of whole families.”

St. Olaf had 300 fundraising volunteers, led by four campaign co-chairs: Jerrol and Alleen Tostrud, who graduated from St. Olaf in 1960 and 1961, respectively, and Truxton and Adrienne Morrison. Both couples have children who graduated from the college.

Campaign volunteers used creative approaches to attract large and small gifts. Although many campaigns incorporate matching gifts, the Tostruds presented a three-year, $1.45 million challenge with a twist.

The challenge matched new and increased gifts to the Partners in Annual Giving program for unrestricted funds and also required increasing levels of alumni giving each year.

In the end, a total of $4.5 million was raised through the challenge, and more than 36 percent of alumni contributed in the final fiscal year of the challenge.

One of the most unique ideas – a Norwegian sweater with the college’s lion emblem – was designed especially for the campaign at the suggestion of Adrienne Morrison.

The sweaters recall the college’s roots as a school for Norwegian immigrants more than 125 years ago.

Another distinctive aspect of the campaign was the sheer size of individual contributions. Seven- and eight-figure gifts did not merely set the early pace, as is the norm, they also continued throughout the life of the campaign. “It is remarkable that despite the economic downturn, we had a steady stream of large gifts all the way to the end of the campaign,” Soenksen said.

“Successful fundraising matches dreams to plans,” he added. “The fact that many of their dreams mirrored the plans of the college compelled alumni and parents to give.”

– St. Olaf News Bureau

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