Posted by Robert L. Burns
NIC has involved itself in lobbying efforts regularly at the federal level and less often at the state level. It is prudent to know something about the environment we enter when making these efforts.
A thumb-nail sketch of lobbying activities in Washington for last fall (2009) reported in The Washington Post showed that there were at that time 12,500 registered lobbyists in D.C., which is 23 lobbyists per member of Congress. This does not include amateur folks like us who are brought in on special efforts. The 23 lobbyists per member of Congress includes only those who do so much lobbying that they are required to register. In late 2009 it was estimated that health-care interests alone were spending $1.4M per day lobbying Congress. That number of lobbyists and that level of expenditure likely have increased this year.
Include in this level of lobbying activity the annual efforts of our host institutions on their own behalf and on behalf of the projects and priorities their governing boards (local and state level) establish and maintain.
Our host institutions, almost all of them, maintain at least one full-time staff person who has professional responsibility for "government relations." The larger and more complex the institution, the larger and more active the government relations staff. Whatever else these staff do, a part of the assignment is lobbying at the state and federal levels. If the host institution is part of a state system, it also works with the government relations professionals who are employed by those state systems, often in the state capital, often also in Washington. Both the individual college's Board and the Governing Board of the state system establish legislative priorities on a regular basis, and those priorities are central to the work of the government relations staffs-lobbyists. It goes without saying that the campus president, system chancellor, and other executive officials are involved regularly in direct lobbying activities as well.
At the same time, our host institutions generally are members of at least one higher education association, often depending on the type of institution: state colleges and universities, land-grant/research universities, private institutions, church-related colleges, etc. These higher education associations, generally headquartered in Washington, maintain their own staffs of professional lobbyists to work on those associations' lists of legislative priorities and regarding specific House of Senate bills.
Thinking about these levels of professional lobbying in Washington can help us understand the environment we enter as we keep our appointment at a Congressional office on The Hill. It also can aid us in understanding typical responses from universities and colleges when we request letters of support and ask for help in working on our own specific lobbying efforts.
Posted by Robert L. Burns
Well, since your foundation competes with the established college foundations in asking members of the same pool of donors for its support, it is likely that the falling trend is one that you also have experienced also. In fact, the colleges have a larger loyal donor base than any fraternity's as they can approach all former students, not just particular Greek members. And the most successful fundraisers among the campuses have more staff and resources to do this work than any fraternity is likely to have and in most cases those development professionals have more years of experience. So, as the academic world gears up to deal with the drop in level of giving, you must consider how you can follow suit in order to maintain your competitive edge.
Understanding what is happening with our host institutions provides you with a better base from which to compete with them.
Even the most successful fundraising colleges felt the drop, but perhaps the private liberal arts campuses were hardest hit in 2009. Types of giving did vary, with college success in annual fund campaigns remaining relatively stable, but capital gifts were down about 25 percent.
Perhaps one specific example is helpful. The survey report is that Valparaiso University raised $12.8M, which sounds great unless you know that in previous years of the just completed campaign they raised from $17M to $30M per year. Their success rate in 2009 was the worst in two decades. Valparaiso reports a participation rate of 18 percent (which is above average), but that is well below the 30% alumni participation level they had hoped for in the most recent campaign.
A report on Voluntary Support of Education survey issued in February indicates that private giving to colleges was down 11.9 percent in 2009, and this is the worst record in the last 50 years. The world economy's woes are one base of the problem, of course. How does this impact your fraternity's foundation?
So, what are the host institutions your foundation competes with planning to do about this set of issues? Again, look at one specific example. Tulane's president believes that the drop in giving will continue, perhaps even be permanent as to numbers and sizes of gifts. Tulane's income from gifts dropped one third in 2009. The planned response is to add $2M per year for the next three years to hire more fund-raising staff.
A summary of the survey's results can be found in a February 3 article in The Chronicle of Higher Education. The full report can be ordered through the Council of Aid to Education's website at http://www.cae.org.
The North-American Interfraternity Conference is pleased to announce that a record number of individuals have applied to serve as a Facilitator or Intern for the 2010 Undergraduate Interfraternity Institute (UIFI). NIC President and CEO, Pete Smithhisler states "All of us at the NIC are extremely grateful for the support that so many of our interfraternal friends and colleagues continually provide to the fraternal movement by volunteering their time and talent to ensure a premier educational experience for the 800 students that will experience UIFI this summer. The commitment by so many to the ongoing development of undergraduate fraternity men and sorority women is humbling and inspiring."
UIFI facilitators play a critical role in the educational process that occurs at UIFI. Over 300 fraternity/sorority professionals, volunteers, and advocates from across the country have applied to facilitate at UIFI and volunteer their time to the development of the students in attendance. The role of the facilitator is to assist participants in developing key leadership skills, foster a heightened awareness of critical issues, and help students apply their newly refined skills to the issues confronting them and their community.
Overall, more than 110 UIFI graduates applied to serve as an Intern for the program. Serving as a UIFI Intern is a unique interfraternal and educational experience for each of the 18 interns selected for UIFI 2010. UIFI Interns are selected based upon their ability to translate their UIFI experience into values-based action that results in positive change within their chapter and overall fraternity/sorority community.
The summer of 2010 will see nine (9) national sessions all held on the campus of Indiana University in Bloomington, IN. Applications to attend UIFI are currently available. For more information about UIFI, please visit www.nicindy.org/programs/uifi.
For 20 years, UIFI has been the premier interfraternal leadership institute for undergraduate fraternity men and sorority women. The goal of UIFI is to provide students with the awareness, skills, and commitment to be ethical leaders who are committed to living their fraternal values and elevating the chapters, councils, and communities.