How Alumni Donations Impact Institutions of Higher Education

An accomplished fundraising professional, Matt Kupec serves as the Chief Executive Officer of the Southern Illinois University Foundation. Over his career, Matt Kupec has helped raise more than $5 million for the organizations where he led fundraising efforts.

When an institution of higher education reaches out to alumni for financial support, it is working to collect funding that will provide the margin of excellence that will all these organizations to offer a full compliment of programming activities. In many cases, alumni donations provide the final funding to bring a program or initiative to fruition. Colleges and universities attain funding through a variety of sources, from tuition to state government funding, and, though this money might launch or initiate a project, it may not be enough. For this reason, alumni donations can be the deciding factor that completes a project, often referred to as “the margin of excellence.”

Alumni donations make a difference in less tangible ways, too. For instance, donating to an alma mater is a good way to stay connected to an organization that contributed to one’s professional and personal development. A strong alumni community can influence a university in numerous ways. Relatedly, the amount of alumni donations an institution receives is seen as a reflection of the quality of its offering, and some school ranking lists directly take alumni donations into account when rating colleges in the U.S.

Voluntary Support of Education (VSE) 2020 Survey Results

Matt Kupec serves as chief executive officer of the Southern Illinois University Foundation, where he directs the school’s $200 million fundraising campaign. Matt Kupec maintains membership in the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). Kupec joined the SIU Foundation in 2018.

A global nonprofit association dedicated to educational advancement, CASE supports institutions in functions including communications, development, marketing, and alumni relations. In February 2021, the organization released results from a Voluntary Support of Education (VSE) survey that found voluntary contributions to higher education institutions amounted to $49.5 billion in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2020.

Compiling data from 873 institutions, the survey concludes that while overall support decreased slightly since 2019, 48.6 percent of participating institutions reported increases in giving. Such results are particularly promising given the economic uncertainty precipitated by COVID-19, according to CASE President and CEO Sue Cunningham. More than 55 percent of total support in 2020 came from foundations and alumni, and 43.3 percent of foundation contributions came from family foundations.

CASE Organizes Online Development Conference for Academic Leaders

Matt Kupec is a fundraising professional with decades of experience in the field of educational development. He serves as CEO at the Southern Illinois University Foundation, where he leads all fundraising efforts to support the university’s goals. In addition, Matt Kupec is an active member of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE).

CASE is an international nonprofit organization promoting the advancement of education through conferences, workshops, and learning opportunities for all professionals in the field of education. Chaired by veteran fundraiser Shaun B. Keister and organized by CASE, the Advanced Development for Deans and Academic Leaders conference will be held on June 14, 2021. The 2-day online, conference will help academic leaders, including deans and development officers, learn advanced fundraising techniques tailored to their gift and fundraising programs. By participating in hands-on workshops, attendees will also explore best practices to foster and improve donor relationships. Additionally, academic leaders will be able to enhance their performance within their prospect management systems.

Three Key Cycling Routes in Illinois

Based in Carbondale, Illinois, Matt Kupec is the chief executive officer for the Southern Illinois University (SIU) Foundation. He joined the foundation in 2018 and oversees the management of the SIU Foundation including all fundraising activities at the school. Beyond his work as a fundraising professional, Matt Kupec enjoys staying active through weightlifting and cycling.

Cycling opportunities in Southern Illinois have been good for some time but opportunities for mountain bikers are scare but they are in the process of getting better!

Cyclists living in Illinois have a range of trails to consider for their next outing, including numerous out-of-use railways that have been converted into multi-use paths known as rail-trails. The Illinois Prairie Path is one of the most popular trails in the state, and for good reason. One of the first ever inductees to the Rails to Trails (RTC) Rail-Trail Hall of Fame, the 57.4 mile route carves through Cook, Du Page, and Kane Counties. The path was instrumental in the creation of future rail-trails and continues to welcome more than 800,000 visitors annually.

The Fox River Trail, meanwhile, covers 43.4 miles of Kane, Kendall, and McHenry counties. One of the most highly rated trails on TrailLink.com, the route offers scenic views of wildflower meadows and picturesque windmills as it winds through old mill towns and a variety of natural areas, many of which are ideal for birding.

Finally, the Tunnel Hill State Trail is a 55.6 mile route encompassing four counties. Rail-trail enthusiasts will be particularly pleased with this ride, as it features 23 trestle bridges, one of which measures 450 feet in length. Additional trails to consider include the Madison County Transit Nickel Plate Trail and the Rock Island Trail in Peoria and Stark counties.

But the really exciting news awaits for mountain bikers. The SIU Touch of Nature is developing mountain bike trails to serve the vastly underserved mountain bikers who must drive long distances to find a quality trail experience. The TON property consists of over 3,000 acres of rolling hill country that has been put too many uses over the years. Plans are underway to build the region’s finest mountain bike trails as part of the Touch of Nature goal of becoming the nation’s premier outdoor education center.

Matt Kupec: Another Hallmark Moment

by Matt Kupec

January 1, 2020

I have had another Hallmark moment!

What, you might ask, is a Hallmark moment?

Well, I must confess that I have grown a fondness for Hallmark channel movies.  The channel which has the same sappy story line for every one of its movies – big city executive finds himself/herself in a very small community with an appealing charm that eventually will draw them away from the big city into the small town forever.

The charm of the small town is both the physical beauty of the town and the surroundings, and of the goodness of the people.

My first Hallmark moment came some forty years ago when I was introduced to Chapel Hill, NC when I attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Known widely as the quintessential college town with a population under 50,000, Chapel Hill had an appeal that endured well beyond my undergraduate days. I returned to Chapel Hill to lead the UNC fundraising program for over twenty years

A year ago, I started with the Southern Illinois University Foundation in Carbondale, Illinois as the in-house fundraising consultant to lead the fundraising program.  SIU was just one year away from completing a $75 million fundraising campaign but with great success has now announced a campaign extension with a new $200 million goal.

For me, Carbondale has become my second Hallmark moment.

What is special about Carbondale?

Small Town.  Carbondale is a small town with a population of 25,902 residents.  It is located in the very southern part of Illinois, some 300 miles away from Chicago to the far north.  The downtown is small but charming.  Carbondale is a bustling community of unusual shops, diverse commerce, cultural activities, and many other luxuries that would be expected in a large city, yet it maintains the comforts and charm of a small town. The city is the most populous in Southern Illinois outside the St Louis Metro-East region.

To read the full article go to http://mattkupec.org/matt-kupec-another-hallmark-moment/

 

Matt Kupec: Why Fire a College Football Coach During the Season?

By Matt Kupec

November 5 2019

Florida State University made big news today when they announced the firing of Head Football Coach Willie Taggert even though there still remain three games left to play in the season.  Coming of a terribly disappointing performance in a loss to Miami, and standing at a record of 4-5, the Seminoles administration made the decision to fire Taggert because as FSU President John Thrasher said, “we had no choice but to make a change.”

So, Coach Taggart gets fired just 21 games into the tenure of his six-year contract at Florida State.  He didn’t even get to finish his second season as the coach.

Why fire the head coach when the season isn’t done yet?

Don’t we preach to our student-athletes that we should never give up, never stop working and fighting to get better?   The game isn’t over until the final whistle we have heard countless times?  Don’t we believe in comebacks?

What is the purpose of a six-year contract when the Coach gets only 1 ¾ years to right the ship??

These are very important questions we must ask the leaders of higher education.  Below you will find some of the reasons why in-season coaching changes are made in football.  At the end of the day, it all comes down to money!  Big money at the Football Bowl Subdivision level!

Don’t cry for Coach Taggert.  His six-year contract was for $30 million, yes, $5 million per year.  In addition to the two years worth of compensation he has already received, Coach Tagger is due approximately $20 million for the remainder of his contract.  Oh, by the way, Florida State had to pay the University of Oregon $3M to buyout Coach Taggert’s contract from Oregon.  And, FSU was also responsible for an additional $1.3M to the University of South Florida left on a buyout when he jumped ship early to take the Oregon job.

To read the full article, go to:  http://mattkupecsports.com/matt-kupec-why-fire-a-college-football-coach-during-the-season/

About the Author

Matt Kupec is a fundraising professional with 32 years of significant higher education development experience. He has directed three major university fundraising campaigns and nearly $5 billion has been raised under his leadership. He has led the fundraising programs at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Hofstra University, Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute and HelpMeSee, a New York City based non-profit. He is currently serving as Senior In-House Fundraising Counsel for Southern Illinois University-Carbondale.

Matt is a former record-breaking four year starting quarterback for the UNC Tar Heels. During his career he set 19 season and career passing records. Two of which still stand — most consecutive games with a TD pass and most wins as a starting QB. Matt also set the ACC record for TD passes his senior year at UNC. Matt was named MVP of the 1977 Liberty Bowl and the 1979 Gator Bowl becoming the 1st player in Atlantic Coast Conference history to be named MVP of two bowl games.

Matt Kupec: Working With Fundraising Campaign Volunteer Leaders

by Matt Kupec

October 30, 2019

It seems like every non-profit and educational institution is in the midst of a major fundraising campaign!  Campaigns are so frequently launched that it now feels like it is more the norm to be in a campaign than not to be in a campaign.

I have had the chance to lead four major fundraising campaigns:

  • “The Campaign for Hofstra University,” a $30 million effort that was Hofstra University’s first-ever comprehensive campaign.  That initiative raised $32 million in total.
  • “The Bicentennial Campaign” at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, a $320 million effort that was launched on the celebration of UNC’s 200th That campaign raised $440 million in total.
  • “The Carolina First Campaign,” a $1.8 billion campaign launched by UNC-Chapel Hill. This effort wound up totaling $2.38 billion in commitments, at the time the 5th largest campaign by a University in U.S. history.
  • “Forever SIU Campaign,” a $75 million effort launched by Southern Illinois University Carbondale. This effort is nearing the $90 million mark in commitments as the campaign marches on.

Having run four major fundraising campaigns, I know the important role that volunteer leadership can play in the subsequent success or failure of these important fundraising initiatives.  In this blog post, I share my thoughts about successfully working with volunteer leaders in a campaign:

Recruiting Volunteer Campaign Leaders.  Finding the right mix of individuals to serve as volunteer leaders of your campaign is one of the most important decisions an organization can make.  I’ve had the privilege of working with some giants like Hugh McColl, Billy Armfield, Paul Fulton, Charlie Shaffer, Mike Overlock, Barbara Hyde and Mary Ann Dickson in the two UNC campaigns.  SIU has a star in Dan Korte and if the campaign gets extended additional great leaders will join the SIU effort.

But what do you look for when recruiting campaign chair(s)?  Do you need just one chair?  Maybe co-chairs?  How about multiple chairs?  There are number of factors you should consider when recruiting volunteer leaders.  How passionate are the individuals about your organization?  Are they major donors?  If not, does that matter?  Are they connected?  Do other volunteers respect them?  What about the proper balance of your leadership group in terms of gender, race, and age?

These are all important questions to ask when recruiting leadership for the campaign.  Remember, you will be working very closely with these individuals for the duration of the campaign so it is important that you select the right people to lead your campaign.

To read the full article, go to http://mattkupec.org/matt-kupec-working-with-fundraising-campaign-volunteers-leaders/

Matt Kupec: My Top Ten Favorite College Football Stadiums

by Matt Kupec

October 5, 2019

This past week I had the chance to visit Memorial Stadium on the University of Illinois campus for the first time.  The Fighting Illini are not a power in the Big 10 and have not competed in many games of importance over the years but I have enjoyed seeing the occasional highlight from an Illini game on football TV shows.

IllinoisWhen driving up to Memorial Stadium I was very impressive with the outside of the football stadium.  Columns on the outer walls made me think of the Los Angeles Coliseum which is home to the USC Trojans.  The inside of the stadium is somewhat of a different story with lots of concrete, field turf and a facility lacking in character.  I do believe with some minor renovations it could be a pretty cool place to play.  Ghosts of the late great Red Grange still run strong in the football environment.

Visiting Memorial Stadium made me think about the best football stadiums I have either been in as a player or a fan.  Here is my top #10 list and the rationale behind my rankings:

#1. UCLA (Rose Bowl Stadium – 90,888 seating capacity)

UclaI consider the Rose Bowl to be the best stadium in all of college football.  I have seen three games there including the 2005 Texas win over USC to capture the national championship and 2009 National Championship games in which Texas fell to Alabama.  I grew up loving to watch the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day when the major bowls still played their games on the same day to start the new year.  I love the beautiful grass, the hills in the background, the circular stadium and history of the place.

#2.  Notre Dame (Notre Dame Stadium – 77,662 seating capacity)

Notre DameI grew up watching Notre Dame highlights on Sunday with Lindsay Nelson and Paul Horning providing commentary.  Watching ND legends like Terry Hanratty, Jim Seymour and so many others filled my childhood dreams of being a football player.  The gold helmets.  The plain uniforms.  No colors in the end zone but diagonal white stripes.  And real and beautiful grass.  The echo’s of Knute Rockne and Touchdown Jesus outside.  A majestic place that, unfortunately, has been tainted by the installation of field tur.  It is painful to watch ND on television these days.  Shameful!

To read the full story, go to https://mattkupecassociates.com/matt-kupec-my-top-ten-favorite-college-football-stadiums/

About the Author

Matt Kupec is a fundraising professional with 32 years of significant higher education development experience. He has directed three major university fundraising campaigns and nearly $5 billion has been raised under his leadership. He has led the fundraising programs at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Hofstra University, Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute and HelpMeSee, a New York City based non-profit. He is currently serving as Senior In-House Fundraising Counsel for Southern Illinois University-Carbondale.

Matt is a former record-breaking four year starting quarterback for the UNC Tar Heels. During his career he set 19 season and career passing records. Two of which still stand — most consecutive games with a TD pass and most wins as a starting QB. Matt also set the ACC record for TD passes his senior year at UNC. Matt was named MVP of the 1977 Liberty Bowl and the 1979 Gator Bowl becoming the 1st player in Atlantic Coast Conference history to be named MVP of two bowl games.

Matt Kupec: The Power of Philanthropy in Higher Education

by Matt Kupec

September 29, 2019

Philanthropy plays a critical role in our society.  In 2018, Americans gave $427.71 to charities, a record level.  Of the total amount, $58.72 million went to support education.  In higher education these dollars help colleges and universities recruit and retain students and faculty, improve and build facilities, strengthen academic programs and support cutting edge research.

At a luncheon with Southern Illinois University alumni earlier this week, I had the chance to make the following points to the Saluki alumni pitch about the important role philanthropy plays for the University:

  • Philanthropy Provides the “margin of excellence.” Universities generate revenue from a variety of sources.  These include state appropriations (for public universities), tuition, research (for research institutions), philanthropic support and auxiliary revenue.  In many instances, dollars raised from philanthropy will be mingled together with other revenue sources to start a new program or build a new facility.  Philanthropy provides “the margin of excellence,” that is the money from private gifts gives organization the funds needed to complete a project, an initiative or a fund.  Without philanthropy, that project would not have been able to be completed.  As state budgets get tighter, private giving is playing an even more important role in allowing Universities to meet the challenges that await them.

To read the entire article, go to http://mattkupec.com/matt-kupec-the-power-of-philanthropy-in-higher-education/

Matt Kupec: ESPN “Game Day” Host Site Surprises

by Matt Kupec

September 10, 2019

ESPN’s College Football Game Day is one of the great television programs!  Last year, “Game Day” celebrated its 25th year anniversary of hosting a college football pre-game show on the college campus featuring one of the top college games of the week.  I wrote a blog to commemorate ESPN’s 25 years of “Game Day.”  https://medium.com/@mattkupec/matt-kupec-a-review-of-espns-game-day-football-sites-95c918094e33

“Game Day” has become a staple of the college football weekend!

This past weekend, “Game Day” was in Austin, TX to host the LSU vs. Texas battle featuring two top ten teams.  What I found amazing was that Austin, TX and the mighty Longhorns has not been host to “Game Day,” since 2009.  A ten-year drought!!  The last time Texas hosted “Game Day” was when my good friend Mack Brown was in his hey day as the Texas coach and Colt McCoy was playing his senior season of what was a remarkable career.

Since I was so shocked by the 10-year drought of Texas as “Game Day” host, I thought I’d take another look back at the “Game Day” host sites and give you some interesting tidbits:

  • Surprising Absence from Last Hosting “Game Day”

Texas’ ten-year ESPN “Game Day” drought was shocking.  Other droughts from successful programs include:

  • Florida (October 20, 2012)
  • Oklahoma (October 27, 2012)
  • Nebraska (September 10, 2007)

To read the entire story, go to https://mattkupecassociates.com/matt-kupec-espn-game-day-host-site-surprises/