Meredith College preparing for campaign

By Todd Cohen

RALEIGH, N.C. — Meredith College is gearing up for the quiet phase of a campaign with a goal expected to be well in excess of the $43 million it raised in its last campaign, which ended seven years ago.

Funds from the drive, which is likely to begin its public phase in 2013 or 2014, would be used to support the goals of a new strategic plan the school’s board of trustees approved in October.

It calls for more scholarships and faculty development; improved enrollment and student retention through support for faculty and student development and leadership; improvements in information technology and infrastructure; greater visibility and marketing for the school; and stronger employee compensation and benefits.

Meredith, with 1,700 women undergraduate students and 300 co-ed graduate students, is working with Winston-Salem consulting firm Capital Development Services to test the feasibility of its new campaign and help set a goal.

The school raises about $6 million a year in private support, including $1 million through its annual fund, which includes gifts of up to $5,000.

It aims over the course of the campaign to increase the annual fund to $1.5 million, says Lennie Barton, vice president for institutional advancement.

Meredith also raises $3 million a year in major gifts, or those of $25,000 or more, and $2 million in planned or deferred gifts, typically through wills and estates.

Planned giving represents the school’s strongest fundraising strategy, says Barton, who joined Meredith two-and-a-half years ago after working at N.C. State University for 33 years, most recently as associate vice chancellor for alumni relations.

Meredith has generated $29 million in planned giving commitments in the past 30 years, he says.

He says the campaign represents an opportunity to engage the school’s 20,000 alumnae, including roughly 6,000 who live in the Triangle, and raise awareness about Meredith and its ongoing focus on preparing women to succeed as leaders.

The new strategic plan, for example, calls for students to develop personal plans for their academic life, their extracurricular leadership activities, their financial stability, and their jobs and careers.

“We’re talking about an individual plan that each student creates,” Barton says.

Efforts people may not know about that are underway or in the works at Meredith, Barton says, include new programs in health care and criminology, and a joint engineering program with N.C. State that lets students earn undergraduate degrees from both schools.

Jo Allen, a 1980 graduate who in April 2011 became Meredith’s first alumna president and only its second female president, says she wants the school to be “more visible, more bold” in reaching out to prospective students and supporters.

“This institution is beloved by the people who know her,” she says, “and for the people who don’t know the institution yet, I think they’re going to fall in love with it.”

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