‘Most successful’ campaign in Gannon history concludes


Gannon University’s latest fundraising campaign, which is being called “the most successful fundraising effort in the university’s history,” concluded at the end of the fiscal year in July.
The seven-year Vision 2020 Campaign raised $67.5 million from more than 13,000 alumni, parents, faculty, staff, students and friends of the university. The total amount raised includes pledges to the university, estate plans, gifts, charitable donations and grants.
The amount raised during this campaign greatly surpassed the $39.3 million raised by the previous Power to Transform Campaign.
The campaign began in 2009 and since then, 10 gifts of $1 million or more were made, including a gift of $5 million, the campaign’s largest. A total of $3.1 million in gifts were made by 528 members of Gannon’s faculty and staff, while 399 campaign partners made gifts of $10,000 or more.
One of the most effective forms of support is the generous gift made by Tom Power, a 1963 Gannon alumnus and retired railroad executive, and his wife, Loretta to create the “Power” Scholarship Challenge Fund, which has leveraged more than 50 new scholarship gifts that were matched dollar-for-dollar through the “Power” Challenge.
Gifts from $25,000 to $100,000 for new scholarships that have been established by alumni, parents, faculty, staff, priests, friends, fraternities and businesses were enhanced by funds provided through the Powers’ generosity.
Gannon President Keith Taylor, Ph. D., said that the campaign was strongly connected to the university’s strategic plan, which centered around fostering innovation, engaging in the community and developing a worldview.
He also said that the campaign is about building relationships and connections with people and organizations to help achieve the goals of the university with the main goal in mind – to educate the students.
“During this campaign, we were able to provide a lot of opportunities to support John Mark Gannon’s starting premise of access to a Catholic education,” Taylor said. “The number of people that really rallied around what has been a big media issue – and it’s a big issue period – but particularly what has been a big media issue around access to higher education and the cost of higher education was a really big one in the campaign.
“It was access for scholarships to get students to be able to come to Gannon but also access to all of what Gannon has to offer.”
Taylor also noted that the name of the campaign, Vision 2020, was a play on words off 20/20 vision and where the university is headed.
Taylor said that the reasons why campaigns are successful is because of two things: having a strong plan and exciting people about the cause.
“I think we put together a very strong strategic plan and within that was a vision for innovation,” he said. “On the business side of things, we became more professional and systematical in the way we went about fostering relationships and motivating people to want to give.
“This is a pretty fantastic university, so you already have a history and a tradition that people are connected to and then you put a strategy over that to help you move in the right direction.”
Taylor pointed out that he didn’t necessarily ask people for money, but rather told them what the university was doing and they typically offered to donate.
One of the things that Taylor said he was proud of was the fact that 528 of the university’s 800 full-time employees contributed to the campaign, well over half.
“That to me says a lot about the commitment of the faculty and staff to the students and to the university,” he said. “How much they gave is one thing but the fact that they gave is really important.”
Scott Rash, the new vice president for University Advancement, said that the university is in the planning stages for the next fundraising campaign.
“Universities are rarely ever out of campaign,” he said. “As soon as one ends, you’re at the beginning of another one. So from the newest strategic plan will emerge priorities for a future campaign – it all begins in the strategic plan.”
Rash also said that one of the responsibilities of the Office of University Advancement is not only to educate alumni about the opportunities, but to educate students along the way.
“[Students] are future alumni and the more we can educate them while they’re here, the more you understand how important it is to stay engaged with your alma mater,” he said. “It’s not just a four-year commitment, it’s a forever commitment.”
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