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Endowment Distributions by Fiscal Year (in millions)

Ohio University ups fundraising ‘administrative fee’

Ohio University fundraisers have acquired more than $464 million in seven years — but officials say the process is expensive and they need more money to raise money.

The “administrative fee” is allocated primarily to University Advancement, OU’s fundraising arm, and increased from one to two percent of spendable endowment dollars between the 2012 and 2013 fiscal years.

The fee is “well within national benchmarks,” said Jennifer Bowie, executive director of communication and marketing for University Advancement.

Bowie did not say to which universities she was comparing OU.

OU’s endowment is budgeted to give $7.4 million to university fundraising expenses in the 2014-15 fiscal year. That’s more than three times the $2.1 million that was allocated in 2012.

OU is also projecting $15.2 million will be drawn from the endowment’s interest this year for spending on various projects throughout the university.

OU’s endowment totaled $497 million, according to March budget records, the most recent figures available.

It wasn’t immediately clear as of press time how exactly the administrative fee would be allocated. 

The fee “supports essential functions” of University Advancement, and the increase in the amount allocated to fundraisers and their increase in raising money are “directly related to one another,” Bowie said in an email.

The increase in administrative expenses comes after several years of unprecedented fundraising at OU. “The Promise Lives” campaign, started in July 2007, recently reached its $450 million goal 14 months ahead of schedule.

The money spent from the endowment’s interest has increased by at least $1 million during each of the last four fiscal years.

“When universities undertake these types of campaigns they incur extra expenses for fundraising materials, staffing, and travel,” Bowie said.

John Day, associate provost for Academic Budget and Planning, said most of the administrative fee money goes to fundraising money for “The Promise Lives” campaign.

The decision to raise the fee rate was approved by the Ohio University Foundation Board of Trustees, the board that governs OU’s endowment.

Day said the fee probably won’t return to previous levels until the campaign’s initial end date next year despite officials meeting the campaign’s fundraising goal.

Even then, he called a decrease of the fee rate, “theoretical.”

“There has always been some fee … there is always going to be some fee,” Day said.

The fundraising campaign will fund a number of university projects, including goals to increase “access and opportunity,” which include scholarship funding.

Less than 50 percent of the campaign’s $450 million goal will be allocated to “access and opportunity,” according to the campaign’s website.


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