Where does donor money go?

GVL / Kasey Garvelink - Vice Presdient Jordan Simmonds speaks to the members of student senate at the meeting on Feb. 25, 2016 in Allendale.

Kasey Garvelink

GVL / Kasey Garvelink – Vice Presdient Jordan Simmonds speaks to the members of student senate at the meeting on Feb. 25, 2016 in Allendale.

Jess Hodge

With more than 19,000 people donating to Grand Valley State University, there is a lot of money to keep track of and to allocate to projects being done on campus. So who decides where the money goes and how much goes to a certain project?

Scott Blinkhorn from University Development spoke to GVSU’s student senate on Feb. 25 to help explain where all that money goes. He said the process is actually quite simple.

“(Money) goes where the donor directs,” he said. “We don’t pick winners and losers here, wherever the donor says ‘I want my money to go to this project’ that’s where it goes.”

In 2015, $16 million was donated to GVSU. That money is split up into three separate categories: endowments, capital and operations. Endowments include scholarships and program funds while the capital category includes new building and equipment. The operations category includes the Grand Valley Fund and other funds as directed. The Grand Valley Fund is the only non-designated fund, meaning the provost’s office will decide where it goes based on what the university’s critical needs are.

Since 2001, the money from that fund has produced many important things for Lakers, including the Pew Campus, the DeVos Center, the Mary Idema Pew Library and the new Douglas P. Kindschi Hall of Science. In addition, there have been 425 private scholarships created, benefiting 1,076 students this year.

Of the 19,000 donations, about 6,000 are from GVSU alumni. Blinkhorn stressed the importance of alumni donors, saying their contributions would be the “future of this institution.”

“We fare a lot better on the number of alumni donors than we did on the alumni dollars,” he said. “A large part of that is look at the age of our alumni donors, the average alumni’s age is (less than) 40 years old.”

Because GVSU is such a young school compared to its Michigan counterparts, the first graduating classes are just now beginning to reach an age where they feel comfortable donating money. In addition to GVSU being young, it was also small. The graduating classes were only a few hundred people, never thousands, which paled in comparison to schools like Michigan State University and University of Michigan at the time.

“What we’re focusing on is the percentage of donors, we’ve seen an increase of alumni donors in the last few years at Grand Valley and we are very gratified for that,” Blinkhorn said. “Over 8.3 percent of alumni gave back last year to Grand Valley, it’s a pretty good increase but we still have a ways to go. One of the things President Haas would like to see is us to cross that 10 percent line by 2020.”

Blinkhorn urged the senators to always participate in tradition events and the Laker for a Lifetime campaign. However, after graduating, he asked that they continue to stay engaged in the GVSU community and to volunteer and give annually.