QUESTION: “So, this ‘Annual Fund’ that’s now part of the Alumni Association office. . . .What’s that about?” — Anonymous, Normal, Illinois

(Editor’s Note: Okay, we confess, it’s a planted question so that we can provide some more information. . . .)

ANSWER: Gee, Anonymous, what a timely question! The “Annual Fund” is a program of annual private giving to the University. These donations help the academic units to achieve goals for which there are no state dollars. Annual Fund contributions are the “bread-and-butter” of private support to Illinois State — the vital ongoing giving that occurs year in and year out, in contrast to the big multi-million dollar gifts that were so exciting to hear about during the Redefining “normal” campaign.

Some alumni make Annual Fund gifts when the Telefund students call to update records and ask for a pledge for an academic department; other annual gifts are in response to a direct mail piece. Some are unsolicited — for example, just before year end when people think about tax deductions and send a check! In all cases, alumni may always specify exactly where they want their donations to go.

The Annual Fund brings in about $1 million in private support each year. Surprisingly, only about seven percent of all alumni are annual donors. One of our goals is to increase that participation level, partly because the organizations that do university and college rankings often look at that percentage closely. Even small gifts can make a big difference because they show support for the University, and that is an indicator of excellence. And for the departments, even those small gifts can really add up.

For more details and answers to some Frequently Asked Questions — or to make a donation! — take a look at the Annual Fund Web site. If you have a specific question, please contact Adam Goduto ’02, assistant director of Alumni Association – Annual Fund, at (309) 438-5474.