The Second Century Campaign will emphasize the importance of yearly gifts in 2014–15, the last fiscal year of the largest fundraising initiative in SMU history.

The effort will focus, in part, on achieving the key campaign goal of having at least 25 percent of all undergraduate alumni provide a contribution to SMU in each fiscal year. That translates to gifts from at least 13,625 undergraduate alumni donors in fiscal year 2015, which runs from June 1, 2014, through May 31, 2015. Yearly gifts from other donors also remain essential.

The yearly undergraduate alumni participation rates affect university rankings by U.S. News & World Report and other services. Top national universities typically have annual alumni giving rates between 25 percent and 30 percent.

Achieving a similar rate would put SMU in the elite company of only 25 schools that have both a top-60 U.S. News ranking and an undergraduate alumni giving rate higher than 25 percent.

For that reason, even donors who have made significant contributions for particular projects also should contribute to SMU on an annual basis.

“Yearly alumni giving is seen as a key measure of quality,” says President R. Gerald Turner. “Increasing the percentage of alumni who give each year is essential if SMU is to continue making progress in the future.

“It also is important for each member of the SMU family – graduate alumni, parents, friends, faculty and others – to give consistently, as each gift is an important measure of our overall strength.”

Organized under the motto Join the Stampede, the yearlong focus will include special events and solicitations organized around particular themes.

The year also will feature mini-campaigns with specific targeted milestones throughout the year. The first milestone will occur September 19–20, the weekend of the Mustangs’ first home football game.

SMU also is increasing its focus on peer-to-peer solicitations by alumni volunteers and school and regional Campaign Steering Committee members as well as Alumni Board members, Parent Leadership Council members, Class Ambassadors and chapter leaders.

“These person-to-person contacts are an essential part of making sure our alumni continue to feel part of the SMU community,” says Leslie Long Melson ’77, chair of SMU’s Alumni Board. “Ultimately it is that connection – and understanding the impact of yearly gifts – that will translate into increased alumni participation levels.

“Meeting this yearly giving goal is important enough that we all should work to achieve it,” she adds. “Let’s show that Mustangs finish strong.”