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The Future of Fundraising

“The university is respected, but Ole Miss is loved. The university gives a diploma and regretfully terminates tenure, but one never graduates from Ole Miss,” is a quote from alumnus Frank Everett that hangs from the wall of the Student Union.
In the midst of tough economic times, the University of Mississippi has been incredibly successful in raising funds through private donations, so much so that the 2012 fiscal year was the second-best fundraising year in the 165-year history of the university.
John Festervand, major gifts officer for the Meek School of Journalism and New Media, said that part of the reason the donations have increased can be attributed to alumni who seek a way to give back to the school that has given them so much.
“So many of our alums give to so many areas,” Festervand said. “They’re very, very generous. They just enjoyed their experience here at the university and they want to make sure that the students now are getting the same sort of experience they had.”
Recently, an alumnus who graduated in 2000 donated $25,000 to the university and School of Journalism to create an endowment.
Another example of a way that former Ole Miss students have given back is with “planned gifts.”  In these cases, some alumni actually write Ole Miss into their wills. 
“Those are the gifts that will surprise us. We’ll have gifts come in that they will not have told the university about,” Festervand said.
On some occasions, an anonymous planned gift can be as much as a million dollars, which is given to the university once that alumnus’ estate is settled. 
University of Mississippi Foundation President Wendell Weakley said that what keeps the donations coming in and the fundraising amounts at such high levels is the overall success of Ole Miss in many fields.
“Our donors are clearly responding to the many positive trends we are seeing throughout the Ole Miss community,” Weakley said. “Our increasing enrollment and numerous accolades from media publications and our peers are giving our donors confidence that Ole Miss is a great investment. Private support is paying dividends, and these dividends spur continued investment.”
It’s the sense of community that is formed between everyone in the Ole Miss family that keeps people investing in the future of the university. Today’s students are tomorrow’s investors, and Ole Miss will continue to thrive with a unified base of alumni support.