“Why” were state university-related foundations established?

State university-related foundations were established to give state 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. Private dollars raised give state universities flexibility in how they can meet objectives listed in their long-range plans. It is for this reason; state university related foundations were established.

Further to avoid becoming a state entity state related foundations must operate independently, be managed by a Board of Trustees,
(Independent of the University Board of Trustees) and governed by board approved by-laws, policies and procedures.

State university-related foundations are 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. Its mission focuses on the support and enhancement of the Alma Mater’s fiscal health. But the Foundation does more, much more. It assists in expanding the university brand, acquire property and/or construct non- academic buildings, and recruit students. The Foundation provides service to the university 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:

  1. The exemption of all gifts received from federal income tax.
  2. 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 donors. 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 for the University?” The confusion centers on ones definition of major contributor/private fundraising vehicle. For example:

  • Norfolk State University, a public HBCU recently celebrated a campus-wide 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 the university endowment from $600,000 to $4.6 million. It has 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 the 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.

We think the answer is clear: the Central State University Foundation is a major contributor to the Alma Mater.

Dr. Veronica R. Watkins
Executive Director