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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Despite national economic struggles and Florida's declining housing market, UF officials said they are prepared to continue soliciting gifts from big-spending donors.

Carter Boydstun, senior associate vice president for development and campaign director for the UF Foundation, the department that handles UF's donations, said it's hard to predict how a potential recession would affect contributions.

Boydstun said UF has experienced temporary declines in gifts over the last 20 to 25 years, but the foundation's marketing and fundraising strategies haven't changed.

"Our business is to work with individuals and work within their individual ability to give, no matter what the conditions are," he said.

UF receives "tens of thousands" of gifts each year ranging from $1 to $5 million from donors of all socioeconomic backgrounds, he said. He said UF has not felt any economic effects on donations yet. On the contrary, December was a record fund raising month.

UF's $1.2 billion endowment fund was ranked No. 61 of 785 schools, according to a 2007 study from the National Association of College and University Business Officers released in January.

Boydstun said he has noticed a growing interest in UF through Florida Tomorrow, UF's seven-year capital campaign to raise $1 billion. Still, UF has seen its share of difficulties due to declining state revenues.

Legislative funding shortfalls forced UF to cut its budget by nearly $40 million this year.

In addition, UF President Bernie Machen instituted a hiring freeze in July. Though UF hired a few faculty members in critical areas, the freeze is still in effect.

Despite all the cutbacks, Boydstun said bleak economic conditions wouldn't slow fundraising efforts.

"We want to make sure we're working with our alumni and our donor friends consistently and building very close relationships regardless of economic conditions," Boydstun said.

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