The champagne toasts that greeted the public launch of Bemidji State University’s Imagine Tomorrow campaign are over, for now.
Excitement continues about the early momentum that has taken BSU’s first-ever comprehensive campaign three-fourths of the way toward its $35 million goal with two years to go. But hard works by volunteers and staff – and quiet consideration by prospective donors – are more the order of the day than celebration.
“Since the launch, we’ve seen a change of direction and the establishment of a different kind of momentum toward the campaign,” said President Richard Hanson. “We’re moving beyond the focus on major gifts to a concentration on the Annual Fund and greater community involvement. From what I’ve seen it’s been a pretty positive transition.”
This new phase involves conversation with alumni and friends around the world, across Minnesota and on campus about how their gifts and pledges will allow them to further the success of the university and its students while building toward the campaign’s ambitious objective.
Special events help engender those conversations while building awareness of Imagine Tomorrow’s capacity to quadruple the scholarship dollars flowing to deserving students, grow academic programs and strengthen resources for learning.
The Scholarship Appreciation Breakfast on Oct. 7, the B-Club Athletic Hall of Fame on Feb. 15, the Lakeside Luncheon on March 20, alumni events in Arizona and Minneapolis, a BSU-hosted Bemidji Area Chamber of Commerce mixer on April 8, the successful Green & White Dinner and Auction for BSU Athletics on April 12, and departmental meetings with BSU employees: All have heightened awareness of the campaign’s importance and the opportunity for individuals to get involved at all levels.
Likewise, establishment of the B-Club Challenge for alumni athletes will provide them a chance to support a particular sport while increasing their impact through a matching gift that supports BSU Athletics as a whole.
“Everyone I’ve spoken with has been very enthusiastic,” Dr. Hanson said. “There’s a sense that ‘it’s about time’ that BSU embarked on this kind of effort.”
Progress so far continues to be very encouraging. As of April 15, Imagine Tomorrow had received $27.5 million in commitments, taking Bemidji State 78 percent of the way towards its goal with just over half of the five-year campaign still ahead. Of that support, $10.7 million has been received as cash, $180,000 as in-kind gifts, $7.7 million in pledges and $8.9 million in planned gifts.
The university’s faculty and staff are joining with alumni and other supporters in contributing to the campaign, including many who have not given to the university in the past, said Lisa Hofstad, the foundation’s director of annual giving. They have pledged more than $423,000 over five years, many through payroll deduction, with the opportunity to designate how their money will be used. Hofstad has conducted around 30 meetings with individual departments to introduce Imagine Tomorrow, show a campaign video and distribute pledge forms.
Among those who have responded since the campaign’s public launch is Terri Traudt ‘80 of Edina, who made a five-year pledge to support Access and Opportunity scholarships, as well as funding international experiences and the university’s forthcoming Leadership Academy.
“Based on my northern Minnesota heritage, I felt giving to BSU’s Imagine Tomorrow campaign was an apt way to honor the memory of my loving and supportive parents who taught their children the value of education, hard work, responsibility and generosity,” said Traudt, who is project manager for the Twin Cities Medical Society.
Already, Imagine Tomorrow has led to a near doubling of scholarship money distributed through the BSU Foundation, from $699,000 in fiscal year 2011 to $1.26 million for the coming fiscal year.
“This is the right time,” Hanson told guests at the Bemidji chamber mixer. “This is going to happen. Bemidji State is going to operate at the next level.”
UPDATE – The total raised by BSU’s faculty and staff during the on-campus portion of the campaign has been updated.