Community Colleges Rise to the Challenge

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A Case of Successful Community College Fundraising

Dr. Doug Eason, President, Mitchell Community College, who has seen the college’s endowment grow from from a few hundred thousand dollars to over $14 million, talks about their successes:
What do community colleges need to be doing now to ensure their development efforts are successful?
“There is no substitute for staying connected with your long-term supporters and especially folks who have given previously. We also continue to have special events–some of which make a good deal of money–even if they are a lot of work. We make sure that people at our events make some type of connection with the college either through student speakers or endorsments by community leaders. It’s a tough time to ask for money, but it’s a great time for making friends.”

What factors contributed to the success of Mitchell Community College’s endowment campaign?
“Good planning and professional advice gave us a very good start which allowed us to build a fundraising capacity for the future which has continued based on our original efforts. Continuous and consistent effort ultimately pays off. We have focused on planned giving during this downturn and just this past month received an estate gift of $800,000. There is no substitute for having a good product to sell and Mitchell Community College is a great product to sell. We also have very good volunteer support and loyalty.”

How did the campaign enhance the perception of the college in the community?

“The development efforts at the college have raised the profile of the college and its benefit to the community in significant ways, which has helped us with our other funding agencies such as the County Commission as well as with business and industry partners. Our publications, especially The Circle, which comes out twice a year is of magazine quality and offers folks a real update on the college and its successes, especially those of students.”

For Mitchell Community College, a philanthropy study and subsequent campaign plan positioned the college for a successful endowment campaign, topping the college’s $4 million goal. Not only did MCC receive its largest gifts ever at this time, the campaign also significantly elevated the stature of the college in the community. In this economic era of uncertain county and state budgets, the state’s community colleges must ready themselves to demonstrate preparedness in order to receive their share of future government bond funding. Are you ready?

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