Designated gifts give boost to college

From the The Brunswick News

The College of Coastal Georgia Foundation decided to change its strategy when it set a lofty fundraising goal of $1.5 million a year ago.

Foundation members decided to empower potential donors by giving them the option of designating where their contributions could be used. It proved to be more successful than they could have imagined.

The foundation received more than $3.4 million in contributions from 572 donors -- a new record for both the amount raised and the number of contributors.

"We became more interested about our giving strategies," college president Valerie Hepburn said. "We were able to give them very clear giving opportunities. When people give in the area they love, they get more engaged."

It didn't take much time before foundation members realized the new approach was going to help them exceed the fundraising goal established at the beginning of last year.

Hepburn said major gifts made a difference in many ways.

"The most obvious one is the Correll Center (for Teacher Education and Learning)," she said. "It could not have been the size it is without that private gift."

College officials said they were asked not to reveal the exact amount donated by former Georgia Pacific Chief Executive Officer and Chairman Pete Correll and his wife, Ada Lee Correll, to support the center when the donation was announced last year, other than to say it exceeded $500,000.

Foundation Chair Rees M. Sumerford said it's important to support the college and higher education.

"It's better for our students, for our community and for our society as a whole," he said. "The foundation views it as the top priority for economic and cultural viability in southeastern Georgia."

Hepburn said foundation members don't feel added pressure this year to raise more than they did in 2012, though she won't be surprised if they exceed the goal for 2013, which is $1.75 million.

"Every year we've set a new record," Hepburn said. "We think we'll have a good year."

When asked why the foundation didn't set a goal as large as the amount raised last year, she said the college will be going through a transition year as it continues to search for new president. Hepburn has accepted another position in the state university system and will start her new job at the end of the current academic semester, which ends in May.

"We don't want to be overly optimistic," she said.

She said foundation trustees are responsible for the success the college has had with fundraisers.

"The real credit goes to our trustees because they are all volunteers," she said. "We have incredible trustees."

In addition to going toward new facilities, foundation dollars are used for student scholarships, campus programming, faculty development and endowments, athletic programming and student housing.

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Release Date: 2/4/2013
Source: The Brunswick News

By GORDON JACKSON