LLCC foundation surpasses endowment goal

http://ift.tt/2iSVzGpSteven Spearie Correspondent

Ties to Lincoln Land Community College run deep in Ken Elmore’s family.

Elmore graduated from Lincoln Land, where he played basketball, in 1979 before going on to Illinois State University. His wife, Cheri (Bradley), son, Sam, and daughter, Ailie, all graduated from there, and his uncle, Charles Long, was a founding member of the Lincoln Land board of trustees.

“I have great memories (of Lincoln Land),” said Elmore, now a banker at First National Bank in Litchfield and a farmer in Waggoner.

Elmore wants to ensure future generations of Lincoln Land students have their own great memories.

The Lincoln Land Foundation will formally wrap up its first “Grow Beyond” endowment campaign in May at the college’s 50th anniversary gala dinner, assured of surpassing its goal of $2.5 million.

College officials say a little over $3.1 million has been raised so far.

Elmore, who also chairs the foundation’s board, was part of teams of alumni, alumni parents, community members and students who covered the community college district’s 15-county area raising funds and awareness over the last five years.

In addition to media advertisements, the college got out word about “Grow Beyond” through Forward, a magazine residents in the district received twice a year; Circle of Friends, the foundation’s newsletter; and monthly emails to alumni.

The campaign also was heavily promoted on the college and foundation website.

While current donors were targeted, teams also identified community partners — businesses, family members and friends — who might be receptive to the college’s message.

“When people see the good work done in the community by the college, it’s an easy sell,” Elmore said. “We wanted to make the endowment fund last forever.”

Karen Sanders, executive director for the Lincoln Land Foundation, which was incorporated in 1996, said it didn’t have an endowment plan until the idea was hatched at a foundation retreat in 2011 over discussions about long-term funding and financial assistance for students.

Sanders said it isn’t unusual for community colleges not to have endowments, but the setup led to discussions with counterparts at state community and junior colleges that had established endowments, like William Rainey Harper College in Palatine, Joliet Junior College and Elgin Community College.

Because donors like to give to “kick-the-tire things like buildings and scholarships,” said Sanders, the buy-in for an endowment campaign was a little trickier. Once teams painted a picture of how funds would be useful — securing state-of-the-art anatomical models of the pancreas, spinal cord and brain, among others, for a biology laboratory at the college’s Litchfield campus, for instance — the conversations were easier, she said.

The foundation worked with Columbus, Ohio-based Goettler Associates Inc., which conducted a feasibility study in the planning phase of the campaign, Sanders said.

With an endowment, she explained, only earnings are spent annually. The principal anchors the fund, allowing it to grow over time and allowing the college to be less dependent on unpredictable streams of revenue.

Sanders doubted that Illinois’ financial picture — the state has been without a budget for over 18 months — changed donors’ thinking about giving to the campaign one way or another. The foundation, she said, was advised that the bulk of the goal would be raised early on, and that turned out to be the case.

“We had a lot of momentum (going into the campaign’s launch in September 2013),” Sanders said. “Donors understand the state of the state’s budget. Everyone is talking about it.

“We just hope that when we were able to share the message of the college, we shared it well.”

— Steven Spearie contact: spearie@hotmail.com or follow on Facebook or Twitter (@StevenSpearie).

*** 

Want to go?

What: Lincoln Land Community College 50th anniversary gala

When: May 6 (cocktails at 6 p.m., dinner at 7)

Where: Menard Hall (LLCC campus, 5250 Shepherd Road)

For more information about other 50th anniversary activities at LLCC, visit http://www.llcc.edu/50-2.

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LLCC foundation surpasses endowment goal

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