Kirk Shisler ’81 (center), vice president for advancement, and Phil Helmuth ’76 (right), executive director of development, chat with Frank Shelp ’80, MD, member of the EMU Commission for the Sciences and former commissioner of the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities of Georgia. (Photo by Jon Styer)

EMU Recognized for Fundraising Excellence as Giving Tops $6 Million

In late May, near the end of what turned out to be one of Eastern Mennonite University’s best fundraising years, the Council for Advancement and Support of Higher Education (CASE) named EMU a winner of an Overall Performance Award for fundraising excellence.

Total giving to EMU for the 2012-13 fiscal year was $6,277,000, a 24 percent increase from the $5,059,000 given to EMU in the previous year. The most recent fiscal year was the second-best year for overall fundraising in the past decade, behind $6,562,000 in total support in the 2005-06 fiscal year.

CASE recognized EMU as one of five “superior fundraising programs” in its peer group, after a blind review of fundraising data over the past three years. Also recognized in EMU’s category were Abilene Christian University, Gonzaga University, the Rochester Institute of Technology and Union University.

“EMU continues to benefit from a very loyal core of alumni donors and individual friends of the university,” said Kirk Shisler, vice president for advancement. “We are very pleased to report that our efforts to increase the giving participation of alumni and current parents continues to bear fruit.”

The university was supported by a total of 3,830 donors last year, up from 3,565 the previous year. The number of alumni donor households increased from 1,942 to 1,995 from 2012 to 2013. Gifts from parents of current students increased from 53 to 86 over the same period, while gifts from parents of former students increased from 231 to 236.

The capital campaign for the renovation of the Suter Science Center also enjoyed its best year to date, receiving more than $1.5 million in gifts and commitments last year. Through the end of June, the campaign had raised $5.9 million. Shisler anticipates reaching the campaign goal of $7 million during the current 2013-14 fiscal year.

Gifts to the University Fund, EMU’s unrestricted annual fund, totaled $1,767,000, while $358,000 was received in new gifts to the university’s endowment funds. The endowment funds support student financial aid, facilities maintenance and various academic programs.

“EMU is especially fortunate to have a donor constituency of alumni and friends who support the institution in three significant ways,” says Shisler. “[This happens] through consistent annual giving, through periodic capital giving to support our capital projects, and, increasingly, through people incorporating EMU into estate plans to make a major gift to EMU at the end of their lives.”

Over the past year, 50 people included EMU in their estate plans, bringing the size of the university’s heritage society (currently known as Jubilee Friends) to 547.

The alumni giving rate now stands at about 23 percent. That is well above the national average for all universities (13%), and compares favorably to EMU’s peer institutions in Virginia as well as other Mennonite colleges.