The health of a person depends on a balanced diet, plenty of exercise, proper sleeping habits, and annual check-ups. The health of an organization involves a different set of indicators. How is financial health assessed and determined? For higher education institutions such as St. Bona-venture University, the answer can include many of the following:
- A strong endowment
- Large classes and higher-scoring students
- Program accreditation and marketable academic offerings
- High percentage of alumni donors
- Highly-credentialed, diversified faculty
- Robust grants and/or government relations activity
- Solid revenue streams and economic development
The University completed its most successful campaign in May 2009 with more than $95 million raised.
What many alumni and friends don’t realize is that funds raised during a campaign are usually spent on capital “bricks and mortar” projects, or invested by the University’s endowment.
Some folks think the University has $95 million in surplus, but this is just not the case. Our Advancement staff is conscious each and every day of benchmarks and goals needed to sustain the annual operating vitality of the University as they also work to increase the University’s endowment.
St. Bonaventure’s endowment totaled $42.4 million at May 31, 2010, which is an increase of $3.8 million from 2009. The Board of Trustees’ asset allocation policy is structured for long-term growth while minimizing risk and achieving targeted annual returns.
“A healthy and growing endowment fund is one of the most important priorities for St. Bonaventure,” said Brenda McGee, senior vice president for Finance and Administration. Gifts to the endowment help to ensure St. Bonaventure’s long-term success while providing support for today’s students, she added.
“While the pot of family funds is smaller these days, I continue to ask our donors if St. Bonaventure is among their top three philanthropies,” said Mary Driscoll, associate vice president for Advancement. “This is usually a good indicator that the alumnus/a is a loyal donor who will continue to give or increase their gift if given a compelling reason. And what better reason than knowing you are helping the next generation of Bonaventure leaders?”
Our University delivers approximately $22 million in scholarship and financial aid to 90 percent of our student body.
This is a powerful statement coming from a small, independent college such as St. Bonaventure.
But even with generous aid packages, some of our families must commit to payment plans of as much as $1,000 per month in addition to taking out loans.
Our students and their families are making huge sacrifices to come to St. Bonaventure. When you give to the University, you help share that burden.
It is interesting to note that during The Anniversary Campaign for St. Bonaventure, nearly 50 percent of our alumni participated. But when the advancement office assessed how many alumni participate on an annual level, the percentage is lower. St. Bonaventure alumni have been participating on an annual basis between 17-23 percent.
“This is still higher than the national average,” said Andrea Bidell, director of the Annual Fund, “but we want to retain our donors from year to year. In order to do that, we have aligned nearly 80 alumni volunteers who will be helping the Bonaventure Fund during the year.”
The University is also committed to raising donor retention. Presently, the retention rate is 70 percent; the Annual Fund Office would like to see that number increase to a minimum of 80 percent.
St. Bonaventure is relying more on The Bonaventure Fund, our annual appeal to alumni, parents and friends. This fund has historically contributed 5 percent to the University’s operating revenue — just more than $2.2 million — which allows the University to retain top students and faculty, but it continues to compete in a very tough environment.
While The Bonaventure Fund is just one indicator of the University’s financial health, it is a key lifeline of the institution. Please help us keep The Bonaventure Fund strong. Just as you receive your annual health check-up, please consider an annual gift to your alma mater for its continued financial health.
If you haven’t already made your gift this year, please visit www.sbu.edu/donate and make a difference today!