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Is Dongguk ready to receive your donations?Ready or not, they will glady take them

 

   
 
  ▲ Dongguk University prided itself on raising over 20 billion won in donations. In front of the Main building, the ‘hall of fame’ was constructed to celebrate the alumni donors. / Photograph: Lee Jong-seok  
 

An analysis of donations for Dongguk University reveals that funds have increased from alumni, the Buddhist order, and professors after announcing the Re-Start Project, a strategy roadmap for the next 10 years.

Last year, Dongguk prided itself on raising over 20 billion won in donations. Since then, many of the school’s facilities have changed their names to honor the major donors. Hak-myung Seminar room, Neung-gum Reading room are two examples. Moreover, in front of the Main building, ‘hall of fame’ is being newly constructed to celebrate the honor of alumni donors.

Recently, many Korean universities have sought to raise funds by donations. In the past, universities have focused more on researching academic issues and educating their students. Nowadays, however, they seem like money grabbers as universities hope to set up companies and make profits on their own.

Here Dongguk is certainly no exception as they have made their best effort to raise funds. Kim Hee-ok, the new president of Dongguk, visited major Buddhist temples and persuaded the Buddhist chiefs to open their purse strings nice and wide with solid donation contributions. Subsidiary cosmetic companies were also launched and focused on producing cosmetic gifts with the collaborations from our biomedical laboratories.

In Korean society, donations were not so common in the past. Many Korean leaders who overcame poverty were more apt to consolidate their wealth and not give it away, so it is a little of surprise that great donors come from Korea. It is most likely that only son and daughter inherit properties, which blurred the true meaning of donation.
However, times have changed and also donation does. Many gifts of donation have tax benefits and the donation process has become easy and flexible, which have led to an increase in individual donations to universities.

One senior woman, who wished to remain anonymous, donated 1 billion won to KAIST, which was a great surprise to many in our society. Also, the news that the total funds from donations were around 65 billion won was revealed to the public.

This shows KAIST a very donor-friendly school and it offers many benefits to donors. Many names of streets, laboratories, classrooms, sculptures and scholarships exist as a result.

 

   
 
  ▲ A couple, Chun-Sik Cho (86) and Chang-Gi Yoon (82), donated to KAIST a 10 billion won worth of real estate. They decided to give away their forturne, influenced by their neighbor, who also gave huge amount of donation to KAIST. / Photograph: KAIST Photo Archive  
 

Moreover, Konkuk University employs a ‘fund raiser’ whose job is to target and  analyze specific organizations which have the ability to make sufficient donations. This was the first time such a position has been offered in university society. Konkuk has developed a science of donation and cleverly markets its donation program.

One major strategy utilized by top universities is making their donors feel connected and involved with the university they are donating too. Donors are regularly invited to school events like the graduation ceremony, and have a chance to deliver speeches to students.

“I received a letter from the school and was really touched by this even though I donated only a small amount of money.” Park Dong-hwan, a KAIST donor, said.

In dealing with the funds, university should put them to the best use possible so they can benefit as many students as possible. Even when the full amount of the donations should be used immediately, most donors want their donations to run for a long period of time. Revealing how and when donations are used is clearly important.

“When people make donations they view them as a kind of investment.” Hwang Shin-hye, a fund raiser of Konkuk University said. “Most people, who endow a great amount of money, have distinct views about how that money should be used. It is really important to satisfy their wishes,” she added.

Critics say that using student celebrities to gain donations is booming on campus. By putting these celebs into the local community, more people will contribute their money. Student celebrities often seek out potential donors and encourage them to support.

Since Dongguk has planned their huge road map, which needs a great amount of funding to attain their goal, it needed to design a clever strategy to gain donations.  Not long ago, a campaign urged all Dongguk members to give 10 thousand won– what a small amount of money to donate. But not many people noticed and participated, though the amount of donation was small. Special strategy is now on progress and Dongguk is ready to  receive your donations.

Lee Jong-seok  bigbell414@dongguk.edu

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