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For this year’s annual Faculty and Staff Campaign for The Cortland Fund, the President’s Council and two Cortland College Foundation Board members are putting their money where their mouths are.

Instead of encouraging SUNY Cortland faculty and staff to give while they make their own, private donation as in the past, this group has pledged to match new and increased employee gifts made by Dec. 31, 2010, with up to $203,000 over the next five years.

Across campus this fall, volunteers recently hand-delivered donor brochures and solicitation letters to their colleagues and took the opportunity, whenever possible, to explain several enticing enhancements compared to past faculty-staff annual fund drives.

Most notably, donors are urged to restrict their pledges to any of their interest areas, such as a scholarship, equipment purchase, organization, program or department.

“I know a lot of other institutions that are doing gift matches but I’m not aware of ones that are doing matches for the faculty and staff campaign,” observed Jennifer Janes, who directs The Cortland Fund.

In the weeks since it was first offered, Janes has been encouraged by the results in terms of increased employee participation and faculty and staff inquiries in reaction to the available dollar-for-dollar match.

“We have a 44 percent increase in participation,” she said. “We went from 80 donors to 115 so far. Cash gifts are up about 88 percent from last year. Last year at this time we were at $7,900. This year, we are at $15,000, and that does not include pledged gifts. In the early stages of the campaign, we are seeing great success.”

“It clearly conveys the Administration’s commitment to being a partner in raising money for the College, added Douglas DeRancy ’75, executive assistant to the vice president of institutional advancement.

“Earlier in the summer we conducted focus groups to determine what would motivate people to give,” Janes explained. “It was expressed overwhelmingly that some kind of incentive could accomplish increased faculty and staff giving.”

“I think what makes this unique is that the match is really coming from 17 people,” DeRancy added. “It’s coming from 15 members of the College’s Administrative Council and two Foundation Board of Directors members. It’s their personal donations. And in essence, it demonstrates that a small number of people can make a big difference.”

Representing the Foundation in this gift matching commitment are Brian Murphy ’83, the current Foundation Board chair, and Victor Rumore ’84, immediate past chair. They made their pledge with the entire President’s Council in an effort to increase the percentage of faculty and staff participation in annual giving from 13.2 percent to at least 20 percent.

“We’re trying to create the habit of giving among employees, but we’re also trying to increase the participation,” DeRancy said. “A larger internal participation will make it easier to present a stronger case for giving to our external audiences: alumni, parents, friends and foundations, etcetera.”

The SUNY campuses, which have only engaged in fundraising for about 25 years, are still catching up with private universities in the region, some of which have been raising money for 200 years and can boast approximately 45 to 50 percent faculty and staff donor participation, DeRancy noted.

“So, we are focusing on having more people participate,” DeRancy said. “Hopefully people will understand that participation and a gift of $100, $200 or $300 can make a difference.”