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When it comes to asking for money, it’s about matching the interest of a donor to that of a program or proposal, says Clif Smart, president of Missouri State University.
In December, the school announced they had received more than $8 million in gifts for various student life initiatives, academic programs and athletics. Established in the early 1980s, the Missouri State Foundation has raised roughly $9 million in annual gifts before growing to $20 million on average since 2005.
In this latest round of giving, Bobby Allison, who along with his late mother Betty hold the namesake for the university’s recreation complex on the northeast side of campus, gave toward the recreational facility improvements currently underway as part of the BEAR fee passage.
“His first gift was about a year, year and a half ago with the Allison fields. And so knowing that, [we] began talking to him about would he like to be involved in some way with the new recreational venues. And he was eager and excited about that, and the more we talked the bigger the project became,” Smart said.
Smart is also humbled by the vast amount of funding the Foundation has received through estate giving, which he says makes a statement that these donors not only have a strong relationship with the university, but believe in the work being done at the school.
The third biggest gift ever received at MSU came from the estate of Lorene Brooks, who left over $4 million to scholarships at West Plains.
“That gift occurred because she had a longterm relationship with that university and its library and the students that went to school there. And she wanted to do something to make a difference in the lives of students going to that campus.”
Smart adds that while some get very nervous asking others for money, he finds comfort in the belief that people who care about the university are open to discussing ways in which they can give.
Hear the full conversation with President Smart above, as part of our monthly program Engaging the Community.