This year is shaping to be one of the best for the University of Wyoming Foundation, with fundraising levels on pace to break the all-time record of $56 million in private donations.
“We’re on a very good pace for private funding,” UW Foundation President Ben Blalock said. “It really signals the enthusiasm donors have for our school.”
The Foundation, which operates on a fiscal year, has raised $40 million since July 1, Blalock said, with the dollars being spread throughout university departments and colleges. The Foundation prioritized several UW projects and programs, but the donors ultimately have the final say in where their gifts are used.
“One key project continues to be the Mick and Susie McMurry High Altitude Performance Center,” he said. “We’re on the verge of finishing that up in this fiscal year.”
The $44 million project is funded by private gifts and a state matching fund. Such matching funds can make the difference when raising over $20 million, UW Foundation Board Chair Scott Neu said.
“A lot of donors look forward to having their money matched like with the High Altitude Performance Center,” he said. “Donors get excited when they know their gift will have twice the impact.”
Raising the $15 million in matching funds for the Engineering Building is another top priority, Blalock said, along with supporting a recent $4.5 million Daniels Fund Grant for the College of Education initiative.
The Haub School of Environmental and Natural Resources and the School of Energy Resources also garner many donations a year, including from private corporations eager to support energy-related projects, Blalock said.
“The Foundation does not specifically work in the research area, but yet, there are times when there is some crossover between research agendas, the need for equipment, the need for facilities that align themselves with research,” he said.
Despite the highly visible donations of several million dollars, most of the 22,000 or more individual donations every year are in the neighborhood of $50 or $100.
“Keep in mind, the support for the university is very, very broad,” Blalock said. “In order to have a successful private support program, we encourage people to give at any level they have an interest in contributing — $25, $50, $100, we welcome all gifts.”
Smaller contributions are pooled into a discretionary support fund for use by deans and directors.
New UW President Laurie Nichols is already involved in the Foundation, Blalock said, although she won’t take office until this summer.
“We look forward to President Nichols coming on board,” he said. “I’m already in regular communication with Laurie, and I look forward to work with her in areas she wants to emphasize with private giving as she becomes our president.”
One goal remains the same throughout the years, Neu said, in addition to fundraising for important UW projects.
“We have an obligation to be good stewards to our donors and good partners to the university,” he said.