From its inception in February 1960, the purpose of the Auburn University Foundation has been centralizing efforts to encourage and solicit private gifts that develop, support, and enhance Auburn’s educational interests and programs. Today, incorporated as an Alabama nonprofit corporation and recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a tax-exempt public charity, the Auburn University Foundation operates separately and distinctly from Auburn University, and is led by a volunteer board of directors working in cooperation with Auburn University’s fundraising professionals in its Office of Development.
The Auburn University Foundation will be a national leader among institutionally related foundations through its work in support of Auburn University and will serve as an exemplar of outstanding performance, effectiveness, and accountability for the philanthropic investments made in support of Auburn’s mission.
The Auburn University Foundation has high standards and conducts its business in adherence with the following values:
- commitment, by enhancing private sector resources in support of Auburn’s pursuit of excellence in teaching, research, outreach, and service;
- community, by pursuing our mission in a welcoming, supportive atmosphere that fosters partnerships to enhance success;
- integrity, by building upon the bonds of trust among ourselves and with our university colleagues, donors, alumni, and other partners by operating in accordance with the highest ethical standards;
- excellence, by embracing the opportunity and responsibility to perform our work in support of Auburn University to the best of our ability, and to explore avenues for personal and professional growth; and
- stewardship, by consistently and conscientiously honoring our obligations and responsibilities as ambassadors of the foundation and the university, and demonstrating accountability to our donors through timely provision of information, responsiveness, and appropriate and authentic expressions of appreciation.
The mission of the Auburn University Foundation is to generate increased philanthropic support for Auburn University. In furtherance of this mission, the foundation receives gifts made in support of the university; manages the investment of the university’s endowments; and ensures that gift funds are kept separate from state funds and are used consistent with donor intent. In doing so, the foundation strives to promote, nurture, and expand the culture of support for Auburn University. The foundation board will accomplish this by:
- providing volunteer leadership assistance in development and fundraising activities;
- motivating alumni and friends to provide private funds and other resources to help the university become a regional and national leader;
- maximizing private-sector support for Auburn University to enhance its pre-eminent position among elite public land-grant institutions;
- investing those assets for maximum return consistent with acceptable risk;
- continuously monitoring and containing the cost of managing its endowments to provide maximum available resources in support of Auburn’s mission;
- building and sustaining a broad range of expertise and experience by recruiting board directors of varying backgrounds and skills that enhance its ability to generate significant philanthropic support; and
- providing fiduciary care for the assets of the foundation and providing advice, consultation, and support to university administration.
AUBURN UNIVERSITY STRATEGIC PLAN
In June 2013, the Auburn University Board of Trustees approved the university’s five-year strategic plan. In focusing on these five priorities through 2018, Auburn expects to remain a leader in both traditional and emerging approaches to instruction, research, and outreach, while succeeding in the ever-changing educational landscape:
- Strategic Priority 1: Enhance Student Success and Diversify Enrollment
- Strategic Priority 2: Support Faculty Excellence and Strengthen Auburn’s Reputation
- Strategic Priority 3: Enhance Research, Scholarship and Creative Work
- Strategic Priority 4: Enhance Public Engagement
- Strategic Priority 5: Focus Resources on Institutional Mission and Priorities
Auburn University’s strategic plan outlines an extensive list of strategic goals and commitments designed to advance the mission of the university — most of which relate to educational and operational matters beyond the foundation’s scope. The following commitments set forth in the university’s Strategic Priority 5, however, relate directly to the very purpose of the Auburn University Foundation:
Strategic Commitment E. Enhance marketing and communication to strengthen the university’s reputation.
- Support a comprehensive branding plan designed to enhance awareness of Auburn’s accomplishments in teaching, research, and public service.
- Strengthen communication initiatives designed to increase the visibility of Auburn’s contributions to the state of Alabama and beyond.
- Cultivate important funding opportunities during the leadership and public phases of the next Comprehensive Campaign to achieve the goal of $1 billion in gifts and pledges.
- Substantially increase alumni participation in philanthropic support of the institution’s goals.
- Increase the culture of student giving.
AUBURN UNIVERSITY FOUNDATION STRATEGIC PLAN
In order to accomplish its primary mission of generating increased philanthropic support to advance the mission of Auburn University — and in response to the direction set in the university’s Strategic Priority 5 — the Auburn University Foundation has adopted the following strategic priorities, commitments, and goals:
- In support of the Auburn University Office of Development, achieve ongoing annual gifts and commitments of at least $100 million.
- In support of the Auburn University Office of Development, achieve the goals of the comprehensive campaign in support of students and faculty, the endowment, capital enhancements, programmatic support, and annual fund initiatives.
- In support of the Auburn University Office of Development, provide Auburn benefactors a superior donor experience through the proper fulfillment of donor intentions, appropriate use of funds, and authentic expressions of impact and gratitude.
- In accordance with its fiduciary duties, continue to grow the endowment, both through effective fundraising and policy-setting, in the interest of achieving intergenerational equity and in support of the institution, its students, and its faculty.
- In accordance with its fiduciary duties, achieve, over the long term, an average annual total endowment investment return that exceeds the sum of the foundation’s approved spending plan plus inflation plus investment management and related fees. The foundation will effectively steward payout and administrative fee practices in order to maintain the purchasing power of each endowment.
- Ensure Comprehensive Campaign Success. Successfully complete the “Because This is Auburn” comprehensive campaign.
- Grow Annual Giving and Donor Participation. In addition to maintaining growth in the annual fundraising base as a result of the “Because This is Auburn” campaign, support the Office of Development in developing and implementing programs aimed at increasing annual participation by special university audiences, including alumni (in partnership with the Auburn Alumni Association), students, and parents.
- Strengthen Principal Gifts Program. Develop and implement a comprehensive principal gifts program to increase the number of gifts to Auburn valued at $5 million or more.
- Increase Transformational Giving. Seek to increase the number of transformational gifts (valued at $25 million and above) by assisting to identify viable prospects — including planned giving prospects — as a means to increase dramatically the university’s competitive position in the higher education marketplace.
- Increase Giving to the Endowment. Enhance fundraising focus on and attract new philanthropic gifts and commitments to the foundation’s endowment.
- Enhance Unrestricted Support. Enhance the focus on unrestricted outright gifts to assist in addressing the university’s strategic priorities, while encouraging new endowment donors to also include an unrestricted funding component as a means of increasing unrestricted endowment growth.
- Identify Prospective Donors. Support the Office of Development in its efforts to expand the base of support by identifying new, major gift prospects, including alumni, friends, parents, corporations, foundations, and other organizations.
- Honor Donors’ Intended Gift Designations. Ensure foundation funds are used in direct alignment with donor intent. Support the Office of Development in its efforts to provide comprehensive, individualized stewardship plans for principal gift donors, in coordination with the beneficiary units.
- Provide Appropriate Stewardship. Develop consistent, minimum stewardship standards for all donors at the leadership and major gift levels.
- Through the leadership of the Directorship Committee, ensure continued and increased success by perpetuating a highly skilled, diverse, engaged, and committed board of directors.
- Recruit Directors Who Can Help Accomplish the Primary Goal of Fundraising. The board should seek out and recruit individuals who have demonstrated an understanding of and commitment to philanthropy and/or have ties to individuals who have the capacity to make or generate significant gifts to Auburn.
- Increase the Diversity of the Board. The recruitment and selection of new board directors should reflect the priority to consider diversity in all its forms — including academic, cultural, vocational, and professional diversity — and to select individuals from diverse backgrounds who will bring a broad range of perspectives, experiences, and skills to the board.
- Set an Expectation of Individual Board Director Giving. Board directors should demonstrate fundraising leadership through investing their personal philanthropy in Auburn through the foundation — with a particular focus on increasing unrestricted support and the availability of endowed professorships and chairs — while recognizing that individual circumstances affecting the level at which directors give widely vary.
- The foundation, through the collective and individual efforts of board directors, should promote Auburn University and the Auburn University Foundation by capitalizing on opportunities to advocate on behalf of university priorities, and by participating in university-sponsored initiatives, activities, and events in a manner that reinforces the university’s mission and image.
- Enhance the University’s and Foundation’s Image. The board should work with Development Communications staff to help provide cohesive and creative branding, marketing, and communications strategies critical to successful fundraising. These efforts should distinguish the university and foundation as worthy recipients of public and private financial resources.
- Participate in University Programs. Board directors should reinforce the significance of university events through their strategic attendance and participation.
- The foundation, through the collective and individual efforts of board directors, should be available to assist and advise the university administration as needed or as requested.
- Support the University on high-priority initiatives through which the foundation can provide transformational impact.
- The foundation, through the collective and individual efforts of board directors, should work cooperatively with the Auburn University Board of Trustees, the Auburn University Alumni Association Board, Tigers Unlimited Foundation Board, and other organizations that support the mission and goals of the university.
- The foundation should consistently utilize best practices in its governance activities.
A FOUNDATION FOR AUBURN’S FUTURE
The Auburn University Foundation, with a clear sense of direction provided by these strategic priorities, will enhance its impact on Auburn’s future through the leadership it provides in supporting the development enterprise, growing and managing the university’s endowment, cultivating a knowledgeable board of directors capable of guiding development professionals and university administration, and collaborating with Auburn’s other volunteer-led organizations. In defining our vision for success, remaining steadfast to our mission, and elevating donors’ philanthropic support through the “Because This is Auburn” campaign, the Auburn University Foundation will be considered as an exemplar university-related foundation upon the conclusion of this strategic plan in 2019.
This strategic plan was reviewed and approved by Auburn University Foundation Board of Directors on Sept. 6, 2014, with implementation beginning October 1, 2014, to coincide with the beginning of Fiscal Year 2015. Directors will review progress toward this strategic plan regularly and make appropriate revisions when necessary.