An interview with Maureen Coleman, director of the URI Annual Fund.
URI's Premier Fund Goes Live
Q:Why do you call the Annual Fund URI's premier fund?
A: We call the Annual Fund our premier fund because it helps the University meet the most fundamental yearly needs of its faculty, students, and alumni.
The Annual Fund supports faculty development programs each year, so URI can continue to attract--and retain--top-notch professors.
The Annual Fund also provides scholarships for outstanding students who otherwise might not have the opportunity to attend college.
And the Annual Fund helps to ensure that QUAD ANGLES, Homecoming, Alumni Weekend, and the Winter Gala continue to keep our alumni and friends connected to the University.
Q:Doesn't the state budget support those things?
A: URI is really a state-assisted, rather than a state-supported institution. The state provides about 24% of the University's annual budget. Tuition and fees support another 27%. The rest of the budget must come from research, scholarships and loans, auxiliary funds, and a variety of other sources.
Last year alone, the Annual Fund provided $1,072,000 in unrestricted revenue, a much-needed supplement to URI's operating budget.
Q:Who gives to the URI Annual Fund?
A:URI is fortunate to have a broad range of supporters, and several different funds make up the Annual Fund: the Alumni Fund, the Parents Fund, the Graduate School Funds, and the Campus Community Campaign. Donors to the Annual Fund include alumni and friends, parents of current and former URI students, faculty, staff, corporations, and foundations.
Q:Lately, it seems like there's always some new fundraising campaign taking place at URI--from their first Capital Campaign, to Green and Ballentine Hall renovations, to the Convocation Center campaign. How can people give to these campaigns and still give to the Annual Fund?
A:Good question. Thankfully, URI's alumni and friends really understand how important it is to continue to give to the Annual Fund each year. In the past five years, despite the Capital Campaign and a number of critical building campaigns, gifts to the Annual Fund have remained strong. This year, we exceeded the $1 million mark yet again and actually increased revenue by 6% over the previous year.
Q:It sounds like the Annual Fund is making great strides. Is there anything new on the horizon?
A:Yes, as a matter of fact, we plan to begin accepting URI's first-ever online gifts this fall. We'll start out with online giving options for the Alumni Fund and the Parents Fund.
Q:What's the advantage of online giving?
A:Well, it helps our donors because giving via the Internet can be more convenient than writing a check or making a credit card gift by phone. It helps URI because it cuts down on our fund-raising and processing costs, so more of the funds we raise go where they're needed most.
Q:What about security? Will donors be assured of the safety of giving online?
A:Absolutely. We are working with an established firm that provides us access to a secure server. Donors will go to the secure site and, with a couple of clicks, make their gifts with a credit card. The donated funds will then be sent electronically to the URI Annual Fund.
Q:Are other universities and nonprofit organizations using online giving?
A:Yes, the potential of online giving, also known as e-philanthropy, is growing dramatically. Universities and other nonprofit organizations, which just a few years ago had no e-giving strategy, are finding that online giving helps them reach thousands of new donors. For example, organizations like the American Red Cross have, in just the past few years, gone from negligible online giving to raising millions of dollars through their Web sites.
Q:Is the Annual Fund's presence on the Web limited to online giving opportunities?
A:Not at all. Online giving is just one part of our overall effort to increase participation in URI's online alumni community (see page 2 for more details.) We want to give people reasons to visit our Web site at http://advance.uri.edu whether it's for alumni events and trips, fund-raising updates, University news, or getting in touch with former classmates. There are a lot of great fund-raising success stories at URI, and the Web gives us one more place to tell those stories and let people know that their gifts really do make a difference.