ATHENS, Ga. - Officials of the University of Georgia and the private UGA Foundation have sharply increased the amount of state and foundation money spent on fund raising.
They say it's paying off.
According to figures provided by the UGA Foundation, the university spent about $5.9 million for fund raising in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2002 - up 37 percent from 1998, when the figure was $4.3 million.
Figures for 2003 were not available, though figures obtained from the state-funded portion of UGA's budget and from the UGA Foundation indicate continued increases in fund-raising expenditures.
However, donations also have risen, according to UGA Foundation records provided in response to a request made under the state Open Records Act.
In 1998 and 1999, about $9 million in fund-raising expenditures over the two years yielded about $57 million in new gifts and pledges, according to foundation figures.
Receipts totaled $42 million in 2002 and $45.6 million in 2001, according to foundation records - a two-year total of $87.6 million, from $11 million in expenditures.
The figures do not represent all the gifts UGA receives in a year - just those attributed to fund-raising efforts.
Deducted are several kinds of gifts, including donations given by season football ticket holders that ensure better seats in Sanford Stadium.
TO CALCULATE EXPENSE, UGA officials tally a percentage of the cost of running several UGA divisions related to fund-raising - 10 percent of the president's office budget, 100 percent of the UGA development office budget (about $4.1 million this year), and 50 percent of the $1.2 million budget for the office of the senior vice president for external affairs, for example.
UGA actually needs to boost its fund-raising apparatus even more as it approaches the end of a "quiet phase" of a major capital fund-raising campaign, said Steve Wrigley, the senior vice president for external affairs.
"I would say we have been greatly understaffed in development. We still are probably understaffed compared to our peers," he said.
UGA officials have not publicly released the goal for the campaign, or its timetable, but sources have said privately that it will be about $500 million over six or seven years.
Mr. Wrigley said he's optimistic that UGA will meet its goal, and that President Michael Adams' decision not to renew Athletic Director Vince Dooley's contract won't mean that donors will shut their pocketbooks.
"The first couple of months of the fiscal year have been strong," he said. "I continue to worry a little about the effect of the economy."
THOUGH OVERALL GIFTS to the university are up, there are a couple of flies in the ointment, said Mr. Wrigley and other officials.
One is the size of UGA's endowment - basically, a pot of money that produces investment income for the university to spend and reinvest to make the endowment grow. UGA's endowment is small compared to those of many of its "peer institutions," such as the University of North Carolina.
UGA is moving up, though. According to the National Association of College and University Business Officers, UGA's $422 million endowment ranked 99th nationally last year - the first time it has cracked the top 100.
Another problem is that while overall gifts to UGA have gone up, unrestricted gifts have declined from $1.6 million in 1997 to $1.2 million in 2003.
Most gifts come with strings - a donor says the money must be used for music scholarships, for example. But the UGA Foundation's board of trustees has more leeway in how it chooses to spend unrestricted funds, which are used for basic operating expenses and new programs.
The decline in unrestricted giving is largely related to the beginning of a couple of fund-raising programs such as the Partners Fund, which targets many of the donors whose gifts once went into the unrestricted column, said Allan Barber, retired UGA senior vice president for finance and administration, who was hired recently as the foundation's interim executive director.
The Partners Fund asks donors to give at least $2,500 annually, including at least $1,000 for the UGA president's Venture Fund, which helps meet "unbudgeted funding challenges throughout the academic year," according to the fund's Web site.
Last year, more than $300,000 in expenditures were authorized from the fund. About $175,000 went to help fund an academic post called the Morris Chair but most was spent in smaller amounts - $5,000 to help the UGA crew team replace its vandalized boat and $10,000 to help support a symposium for veterinary medicine students, for example.
This chart shows the funds raised, and the dollars spent to raise those funds, at the University of Georgia since 1998. (Figures in millions)
YEAR EXPENSES FUNDS RAISED
1998 $4.3 $28.5
1999 $4.7 $38.4
2000 $4.8 $31.9
2001 $5.2 $45.6
2002 $5.9 $42.0
Source: University of Georgia Foundation