SDSU campaign funnels donations

The Strategic Planning Committee will finish reviewing feedback during the upcoming spring semester.

File photo

The Strategic Planning Committee will finish reviewing feedback during the upcoming spring semester.

by Ashley Quintero, Staff Writer

When San Diego State alumnus Terry Atkinson began his philanthropic efforts, he knew his Alma Matter was the perfect place to give back.

“It was a great place for me when I went there, but I think it’s a greater place now for its students,” Atkinson said.

He has been a part of the Campanile Foundation for the past decade and currently sits on the board of The Campanile Foundation. 

He has made several donations to the university through The Campaign for SDSU, which has raised more than $500 million to date.

The Campaign for SDSU is the university’s fundraising tactic that is donor centric, which allows the donor to direct his or her money toward different programs, buildings, schools or scholarships within the university.

The university cannot choose where a gift goes and cannot redirect the money to another program.

Mary Ruth Carleton, vice president of university relations and development chief executive officer, said there are hundreds of subcampaigns — from the Guardian Scholars program to general scholarships to the athletics department and more — within The Campaign for SDSU. Each subcampaign also has its own fundraising goal.

the campaign chartThe Alumni Center was the first to reach its fundraising goal, Carleton said.

The KPBS and athletic department campaigns have received the most number of donations. The College of Business Administration is the college with the most in donations, with more than $46 million.

The university increased its fundraising goal to $750 million last semester after surpassing its original goal of $500 million. SDSU has reached 74 percent of its goal.

The scholarships campaign is the universities main focus, Carleton said.

Atkinson has contributed $250,000 to scholarships including ones for the Guardian Scholars program, which assists homeless and other students in similar situations.

“Some of these are personal interests and some (donations) go to where I see the need,” Atkinson said. “I came from a lower middle-class background here in San Diego and I know the Guardian Scholars needs help. It gives students and opportunity they might not have had.”

Former President Stephen Weber began planning for a campaign in 2012 by looking into alumni donations. The Campaign was established in 2007 because there was a significant need, Carleton said. At one point public universities were fully supported by the government. Now, only 19 percent of funding comes from the state, she said.

The Campaign for SDSU is the first fundraising tactic the university has ever done, and Carleton said SDSU was one of the first public universities to start a campaign on this level.

Now it’s spreading to other universities, she said.

Donors for the campaign range from alumni, students families and friends of the university.

According to SDSU NewsCenter, the Robin and Bill Sinclair estate gift helped fund the Coryell Legacy. This donation to the SDSU athletic department will help launch a scholarship program to ensure the success of student-athletes.

Another gift the university received through the campaign was San Diego philanthropist Conrad Prebys’s $20 million scholarship endowment. More recently, he made a $2.5 million gift that will create a new faculty position in the field of bio-medical research.

The fall 2014 semester was the most successful for The Campaign for SDSU, raising $18.5 million since the semester began, according to SDSU NewsCenter.

Carleton said about 200 students have already made gifts to the campaign.

“Our goal is that students will appreciate the funding from the alumni and that they will eventually become supporters of the university,” Carleton said. “Alumni donate because they are proud of being alums of the university and we only hope that the students feel the same way.”

The Alumni Center and the university attempt to get the word out to the students by giving out free T-shirts and having a booth at the Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union.