As state financial support continues to decline for Illinois' public colleges and universities, Western Illinois University wants to bulk up another revenue stream. But Illinois' budget uncertainty is making it difficult.
Most of Western’s revenue comes from state appropriations and student tuition and fees. But there’s also a fundraising arm of the university.
WIU Foundation Executive Officer Brad Bainter said Western received close to $8 million in charitable donations this fiscal year. That’s on par with what the University has brought in over the last couple of years. But he said fundraising recently has not been easy.
“It’s tough when you’re talking to someone about a seven figure gift and the question is about whether the university or department is going to be there in five years,” Bainter said.
“And we can be as positive as we want to be about it but if that question mark is out there, it’s tough to get around. You don’t just drop a million dollars on somebody and then five years from now that place is gone. So it was a real question mark for us this year.”
Bainter said Western’s last capital campaign was almost three years ago. During the campaign, the University raised about $9 million a year and about $62 million total.
He said as the University looks to prop up fundraising, planning for the next capital campaign will get underway in December.
Donations to the WIU Foundation can be earmarked to support different academic departments on campus or student activities such as the performing arts or athletics. But Bainter said most of the money raised pays for student scholarships.
Western administrators said a scholarship as small as a $1,000 can greatly increase the probability that a prospective student will choose to attend WIU.