Shields allots time to fundraise

Rachael Shaff and Gerrad Frei

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Chancellor Dennis Shields has devoted 50 percent of his work week to “touch” potential donors nine times.

His efforts are for the Foundation’s capital campaign for the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. The capital campaign is a five-to-seven year effort to raise $40 million to benefit the university.

Currently, the campaign is in its “quiet phase,” where donors with the greatest potential to give large gifts are targeted, said Rob Cramer, vice chancellor for administrative services.

“In order to do this well, it takes a lot of contact,” Shields said. “When I say 50 percent, I don’t necessarily mean time away from campus.”

Shields estimates he spends 30 hours of his 60 hour work week dedicated to fundraising for UW-Platteville.

Within those 30 hours, Shields may travel to or host potential donors with whom he believes will contribute the largest gifts.

“He’s on the top 25 prospects, but most people are getting in-touch with the staff,” Foundation Executive Director Dennis Cooley said.

The capital campaign, which began on June 1, has targeted more than 40,000 potential donors who are connected to the university in a positive way.

“I think we have tentative commitments of $1/2 million, with two tentative seven figure gifts,” Shields said. “I can’t talk much about (the donors) because we are still talking (with them). It’s fair to say we have over $2 million (in gifts).”

Shields expects to release the names of the donors by the end of the academic year.

In mid-October, pledge cards will be coming in, and the amount Shields has raised will be announced.

The money raised will benefit scholarship endowments for students and the university’s Master Plan (Bricks and Mortar).

Through a feasibility study, 120 of the most consistent donors said they would rather give money towards scholarship endowments and the Master Plan, Cooley said.

Shields plans to raise $20 million for Bricks and Mortar, $15 million for scholarship endowments, and $5 million for high impact practices such as study abroad.

The goal is to double the current scholarship endowment average, allowing for more and higher scholarship rewards.

Bricks and Mortar is the university’s plan for expansion as the campus population grows.  Laid out in the plan are new academic buildings and renovations and retooling of old buildings.

Shields plans to reach his fundraising goals for these areas by making contact with donors multiple times.

“One of the things we knew was that we were going to have to meet with (potential donors) as many as nine times,” Shields said.

There are a variety of ways Shields “touches” these donors, such as alumni organized events, meeting one-on-one with a donor, inviting them to a game, or meeting with them at homecoming.

“When I talk about touches, I talk about mostly face-to-face,” Shields said, though he may follow-up with a potential donor via telephone.

An exact amount raised has not been calculated yet, Cooley said.

“I can tell you it’s in the millions, conservatively,” Cooley said. “Boy, (Shields) has asked for a lot.”

“The university needs to control its own destiny,” Cramer said. “That’s the big context.”

Shields agrees, saying that with the current decline in state funding, the university needs to find a way to be “self-sustaining.”

Shields’ goal is to have the university’s budget better than when he was hired as chancellor, and he is working hard at achieving that goal.

“I believe in this institution,” Shields said. “It has great potential.”

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