Friday, February 08, 2008

Gordon College Foundation Has Record Year

The Gordon College Foundation received more than $1.5 million in donations in 2007 making it the best fundraising year in the foundation’s 36-year history.

“When President Lawrence Weill arrived at Gordon in 2002, there were fewer than 200 donors listed in the foundation records,” said Rhonda Toon, vice president of advancement and executive director of the foundation. “Not all of those 200 donors were living, but that figure represented every donor of record who had contributed to the foundation since its beginning. Five years later the donor base has more than doubled and participation from employees is 10 times greater than what it was in 2002.”

Despite 2007 being such a great year for donations, the Gordon College Foundation corpus, valued at just under $7 million, is on the lower end of foundation endowments in the state.

“In comparison with other public colleges, especially those designated as state colleges, our corpus value and our annual giving rate is on the low side. But for Gordon, 2007 represents a tremendous year for us when one considers where we were just five years ago.”

One hundred twelve donors gave $84,680 to the foundation in 2002. Of those 112 donors, 17 of them were employees of the College. In 2005, total giving to the foundation grew to $116,664.28 and the number of donors – 246 – doubled. In 2007, there were 427 donors supporting the foundation with 177 of them employees of the College.

And while the number of supporters grows each year, the largest single gift to the foundation in 2007 was one of real estate.

“Many donors find that the tax advantages of giving appreciated property or stock make those donations very attractive. Last year we had a number of such gifts,” Toon said.

Many of the gifts to the foundation are restricted to specific projects with approximately $300,000 given to support equipping the simulation labs for the proposed allied health and nursing building. Other gifts were directed to the Cy Neuner Faculty and Staff Enrichment fund, the Jones-Story Emergency Loan Fund and to named scholarship endowments.

“With the addition of four-year programs, Gordon will need more scholarship endowments. Many of our scholarships were established to support a student for only one year or for a maximum of two years,” Toon said. “A gift of $25,000 can establish a perpetual scholarship at Gordon with the interest earnings providing the award. Giving to scholarships was a large percentage of our 2007 donations.”

But all foundations depend on non-restricted gifts to provide needed operating expenses.

The Gordon College Foundation does not receive any public money for its operations and is totally dependent on donations. Gifts to the foundation that are not directed to a specific purpose allow the foundation not only to pay for postage and office supplies, but to be able to act when a need is presented that can not be met through any other means.

“Many people don’t understand the distinction between the Gordon College Foundation, which is a separate 501(c)3 organization and the College itself,” Toon said. “The foundation exists solely to support the College, but it has a separate governance structure and is not funded by tax dollars. There are a number of restrictions on how funds can be used because the College receives taxpayer support. The College also receives revenue from tuition dollars and other auxiliary sources, but for many purposes the College is very dependent on the foundation and its ability to raise funds. There are many goals Gordon College would be unable to meet without financial support from its alumni and friends.”

“We are very grateful for the support of the donors to the Gordon Foundation,” said Weill. “We are only able to grow Gordon due to the loyalty of our supporters because they understand the value of what we do. This institution has a great 155-year history. I think it is poised to do even more in the years ahead of us.”

Gordon College, in Barnesville, is a residential state college of the University System of Georgia and offers more than 80 programs of study to more than 3,700 students.

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