Contributions to UA continue

Amanda Bayhi

Despite the current condition of the economy, the University is continuing to receive monetary donations from alumni and other UA fans.

Pam Parker, vice president for advancement said most of the money the University receives from donations goes toward student scholarships. A portion of it also goes to faculty support, professorships, travel funds and athletics.

“Our constituents want to help other people,” Parker said.

Parker said the University completed a seven-year campaign in June that was called “Our Students. Our Future.” The goal of the campaign was to raise $500 million, Parker said.

The campaign ended with $612 million.

According to a recent story by al.com, the University’s donations have declined since the end of the campaign, which UA officials say they expected.

Alabama is not the only school seeing declines in contributions. Gulflive.com reported that schools in Mobile are also seeing donations decline. The University of South Alabama dropped from $13.3 million to $7.3 million, according to the site.

Gulflive.com reported that many colleges’ donations were down because of the economy and that more colleges would see more contributions as the economy continues to recover.

However, Parker said the University always strives to do better. Parker said she does not expect UA to receive as many or more donations because of the recent campaign.

“You get out of a campaign, and it will kind of just be steady,” Parker said.

According to al.com, UAB recently completed a campaign as well. The campaign ended in 2009 when the university raised $96.5 million, exceeding its goal by 38 percent.

Parker said most of UA’s annual fund donations are $100 or less and are often given through social media outlets, such as Facebook or Twitter.

Parker said the major donations come from people with whom UA representatives talk to one-on-one.

“Nothing’s better than sitting down and talking to people one-on-one,” Parker said.

Parker said it also helps to allow the donors to meet students who their gift may help.

“People invest in people,” Parker said.

Parker said the main reason people want to give to UA has a lot to do with UA President Robert Witt, who has been in office for seven years. Parker said Witt has strong leadership skills and a vision, qualities that encourage people to contribute to the University.

“People don’t give money to this institution because I ask them for it. They give money because, you know, we’ve said, ‘This is where we’re going,’ and we’ve done it,” Parker said.

Parker said Witt’s ability to make things happen helps too. When people see UA’s growth in student population as well as its expansion, they may be encouraged to give, Parker said.

“Bob Witt said he was going to do it and he did it, and you like to give to that,” Parker said.

Parker said athletics affect how much money UA receives but not necessarily in large donations. Parker said UA receives the extra money from an increased student population, collegiate car tags, and licensed UA products. UA also receives an increase in $100-or-less donations when UA athletic teams do well.

“Everybody wants to be part of a winning team,” Parker said.

Parker said UA uses various techniques to encourage constituents to continue to give. Parker said some things UA uses as part of their techniques include Facebook, email, magazines and newsletters. UA also sends mail to constituents to ask for donations.

“There are lots of ways that we keep people informed,” Parker said.

Parker said that as long as UA continues to keep strong relationships with alumni and friends, those people will continue to contribute to UA.

“My philosophy about fundraising is that it’s not about the money—it’s about the people,” Parker said.