At the Foundation, we’ve often been asked the following: “Why must university- related foundations, indeed the Central State University Foundation, operate independently and be managed by its own Boards of Trustees?”
It’s a good question, so let us explain the answer.
Why was the Central State University Foundation established?
State university-related foundations were established to give public universities like Central State University, a way of raising private funds without said funds being co-opted by the state. From a university perspective foundation raised funds are to supplement state appropriations, not be in lieu of. Dollars raised give public universities flexibility in how they can meet objectives stated in their long-range plans.
It is for this reason, state university related foundations were established and why they must operate independently, be managed by a separate Board of Trustees, and governed by board approved by-laws, policies and procedures. State university-related Foundations were structured to serve as major private fundraising vehicles. The Central State University Foundation, like The Ohio State University Foundation, Bowling Green State Foundation, et al., was so founded.
Further, a Foundation’s mission typically focuses on the support and enhancement of a University’s fiscal health. But they do more. Their mission should mirror that of the University in that it seeks to promote academic excellence through teaching, research, and service to a university’s publics by raising private funds to pay for tangible additions/improvements.
The ability of a Foundation to seek and receive philanthropic gifts is dependent upon the continuing recognition of its tax-exempt status by the IRS. This allows for:
- The exemption of all gifts received from federal income tax.
- The deductibility, for general income, gift, and estate tax purposes, of contributions by donors to the University.
A Foundation must protect its status by abiding by all relevant laws and regulations. Person’s using the Foundation’s tax-exempt status must receive written permission from the Foundation’s Board of Trustees. With great emphasis, it should be noted state universities do not have the authority to provide (1) and (2) to its publics. Again, that is why Foundations were established.
Is the Central State University Foundation a major contributor/private fundraising vehicle?
Foundations meet their mission through having the ability to raise private funds- using professional fundraising tools- for the specific purpose of constructing new academic facilities, undertaking major building renovations or expansion, purchasing expensive pieces of scientific equipment necessary to conduct faculty/student research, building the endowment, expanding academic programs, and enhancing scholarship offerings to facilitate increased student enrollment.
It is the Foundation Board’s responsibility to answer the question ‘Is the Foundation/Central State University Foundation a major contributor/ private fundraising vehicle?” The confusion centers on the definition of major contributor/private fundraising vehicle. Norfolk State University, a public HBCU recently (2015) celebrated campus-wide the achievement of raising $2 million dollars through its foundation for the first time. In 2017, Spelman College celebrated its “most successful Annual Fund ever” by raising $2.9 million. By comparison the Central State University Foundation raised an average of $2.3 million from 2006 -2011 with its best fundraising year being 2008 when it raised $4 million.
Further, since 2000 the Central State University Foundation increased its holdings from $5 million to $23 million. It increased university endowment from $600,000 to $4.6 million. It consistently received unqualified audits/ clean opinions from independent accounting firms. It has built residence halls, purchased a new Presidential house, acquired land tangential to the campus, raised funds to support the restoration of Emory Hall, enhanced academic programming (robotics laboratory, stock trading room, music series program, etc.), restored Marauder Football, increased student enrollment through its project 100 program, rehabilitated the sunken garden, etc.
During the period 2010 -2018 the Foundation received its first million dollar gift and identified/solicited five donors who gave more than $600,000 each. The Foundation, through its 1887 Legacy Society, also received its largest gift from a non-alumnus donor $536,000. Finally, foundation sponsored events, “a Night for Philanthropy”, White Night Gala, President’s Reception, and Dayton Classic, not only gave donors an opportunity to be feted and honored, but also served as major public relations events for the University.
Dr. Veronica R. Watkins