The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Million-dollar donations put Step Forward on track

By Diego Ruiz

Last month, two seven-figure gifts from anonymous Macalester alumni boosted the Step Forward campaign, raising $2 million for Macalester’s endowment and $1 million for the Janet Wallace renovation.Tommy Bonner, the Vice President for Advancement, said these gifts are essential to getting fundraising efforts back on track. Over the past year and a half, there were fewer large donations to Macalester than average, a problem Bonner attributes to the economic recession.

“It’s critical. It’s building momentum,” Bonner said of the recent gifts. “We’ve got a couple other seven-figure gifts people are considering. I’m very optimistic things are turning.”

The Step Forward campaign has raised $118.4 million from donors so far. The money has funded projects such as the Leonard Center, Institute for Global Citizenship, endowed professorships and scholarships.

Bonner said that he believes the campaign will make its adjusted goal of $150 million by the end of 2011.

“Bringing big donors on board brings everyone else on board,” Bonner said. “I don’t see any reason that we can’t finish this on time.”

The $2 million gift to the endowment is from a married couple. Both are Macalester alums. When asked why they donated to Macalester over other non-profits, they replied in an email message, “We deeply believe in the college’s long-term mission and have a great affection for Macalester. It’s satisfying to know that long after we are gone, future students will benefit.”

The couple had a large stock investment in a company that was about to be bought out. According to Bonner, the stock had doubled in value during the past year.

Giving the stock to Macalester helped the donors avoid a large tax bill. “We had to move quickly to make the gift, but now can take our time discussing how it will be used,” they said.

Bonner said the gift could either go to scholarship assistance or a new endowed professorship chair.

“It’s rare for these $2 million chunks to come along, and you try to set up chairs with those if you can,” he said.

The $1 million dollar gift for the Janet Wallace renovation was from an alumnus of the Macalester Class of 1950. Before this donation, he had given $700,000 to Step Forward. Bonner said that he steered the donor toward giving to the Janet Wallace project.

“The donor would give it for whatever we wanted,” Bonner said. “He and his wife want to support the greatest need at the college, and for us right now, we’re telling people it’s Janet Wallace. We’ve got to get this project underway.”

So far, $12.5 million has been raised for the Janet Wallace renovation. Although the first phase of the renovation will require $24 million in donations, Bonner said construction would start when the college has $18 million.

“In a perfect world, we would start construction in January 2011,” he said. “We’re going to do everything we can to find that $5.5 million in the next eight months.

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