FSU Has Best Fundraising Start in Years
Interim President Tom Bowling said at his convocation address that Frostburg State University is having its best fundraising start in six years, raising $425,013 so far this fiscal year compared to $321,201 this time last year.
John T. Short, FSU’s Vice President of University Advancement, is primarily responsible for FSU’s fundraising efforts. Although he has only been at the school for eight months, he has years of experience. In previous years, he has worked at two other schools, one of them being a small liberal arts college in Pennsylvania for four years and a small private school in Massachusetts for 11 years.
When Short was asked what changes in his offices procedures could have caused the big spike in fundraising, he was not shy about giving credit to the alumni involved in major gifts. According to Short, there has been an increase on the focus of major gifts, or rather, donations from a small group of notable alumni. Short stated that, “When he started 15 years ago in this business, 80 percent of the money from alumni came from 20 percent of the donors,” however, “now 95 percent of the money comes from less than 5 percent of the donors.” Short continued by claiming that “this large change in the amount of alumni who are now donating has caused a need to heavily focus on those individuals by establishing a more meaningful connection.”
When asked exactly how his office is creating these more meaningful connections, Short was quick to point out how much dedication it takes to maintain those relationships. “If it takes getting in a car or getting in a plane to maintain those relationships with alumni then we will do that.” Short said. “It might take a number of visits, but we try our best to determine willing people that have the financial capacity to give back to Frostburg students.” Short further commented on FSU’s efforts by stating that “We are getting out more, around the country to build relationships and when we meet with alumni we try to get them reconnected through job internships and campus events.”
Short also described how a little bit of help from alumni can go a long way. According to Short, staying connected with young alumni is extremely important.” If young alumni give the equivalent of a cup of coffee or a few cheeseburgers that helps out a lot, “Short said.” We have even thought about starting a philanthropy program at FSU so that people can understand the importance of giving back to the community.” Short feels that when young alumni are more successful 30 years from now, they will hopefully be in a position to give those major gifts.
Although Short is proud of the recent increase in fundraising, he did express some of the difficulties in transitioning from private to public schooling. “The distinction between a private school and a public school was the hardest change,” Short said. “You live and die on how well you do in recruitment and fundraising at a public school, but the plus is something like the new CCIT building because you could not have raised something like that at a private school.”
Short also had the chance to express some of the opportunities that alumni get when they give back to the school. He stated that alumni who do donate have the ability to work with FSU to see if they can come up with some project on campus and try to match their interest with things that we are doing. “People say, why are we twisting arms?” Short said jokingly. “I have never twisted anyone’s arm, but if you come out of Frostburg and you enjoyed your experience then we hope that you can pay it forward. Short was able to give a recent example of this from a dinner that included Frostburg alumni.
“Just recently I was at a dinner with the reaccreditation team looking at the school of business for 5 years.” Short said. “There has to be a review to make sure that we are complying with the standards of the organization and the dinner was with the team and the interim dean of the school of business, myself, and about eight alumni who served on the adversary committee of the school of business.” According to Short, this is an example of alumni who are giving back by working on this committee and showing up to this dinner. “We have alumni across the country that help with things like this, Short said proudly.” Hopefully we continue to keep doing great things like this in the future.”