The Ohio Union, built in 1910, was the first student union at a public university. In 2004, the OSU Board of Trustees approved plans to construct a $100 million, state-of-the-art student center to serve future generations of OSU students. While members of the student union leadership staff were ecstatic about the approval, they wanted to ensure the new student union would showcase The Ohio State University and serve as a model for other Big 10 schools. The staff estimated that an additional $20 million was necessary to make the new Union all it could be. With no previous capital campaign experience and no existing database of donors, the development team engaged to Cramer & Associates to conduct a feasibility study and assess potential support for this campaign.
Cramer & Associates worked closely with the assistant vice president of student life to educate and train staff on the prospective engagement opportunities for the new facility. We also developed an outline of philanthropic areas of support, commemorative opportunities, and tactics for personal engagement. During the feasibility study, we interviewed more than 40 individuals connected to the Ohio Union.
Our team recommended that the student union leadership team move forward with a campaign and predicted that they could raise between $10 and $15 million. The plan for the new Student Union included donor priorities revealed in the study: a multicultural center, large and small event venues, and multiple dining locations. We recommended a focused and detailed prospect cultivation period and a broad-based and inclusive ‘Ohio Union community campaign.’ These strategies instilled a sense of ownership of the new Ohio Union within the OSU community and throughout the nation.
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