When a corporate chieftain goes to bat in fund raising
Detroit — When the chairman of General Motors Corporation calls and asks for money, what do you say? Apparently, most businessmen and women's have said "yes" to Thomas A. Murphy's call for contributions to the United Negro College Fund's Capital Resource Development Program, making it the third most successful capital fund-raising program ever. Only Stanford University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology have been more successful.
Mr. Murphy, faced this year with nothing out bad news in the auto industry, was more successful outside of it. With an initial goal of $50 million, the GM chairman now expects to raise nearly $60 million by the time of the campaign winds up this fall. Of that $60 million, over $54 million was raised from the business community and charitable foundations. Some $2 million was garnered from individuals, and the rest is interest.
About $27 million was contributed directly by the business community. some 840 corporations, foundations, and individuals, ranging from International Business Machines ($750,000) to the Glosser brothers ($100), gave. The largest donation, $6 million, was made by the Kresge Foundation.
The United Negro College Fund, for its part, says that it was extremely pleased with the support it received from the business community. Says Marion Bondurant, director of funding and corporate support, "Usually corporations don't give as much to a campaign such as this." She attributes the corporate interest mainly to Mr. Murphy's involvement. "He gave more time to this campaign than any other executive," she says, adding, "and executives recognized the need to make sure young black people could receive an education."
The money will be used for building new facilities, modernizing older ones, and adding to the fund's endowment. The fund is composed of 41 private predominantly black four-year colleges and universities.
Raising the money, Mr. Murphy said in an interview, was not easy. He often combined vacation and business trips over a two-year period with the task of getting money for the drive.
"There is never a good time for trying to get corporations to contribute money," he said. For example, GM itself has been faced with a mountain of red ink this year, but still managed to add $1,050,000 to the program through its foundation. This year the GM Foundation will give away a total of $27 million.
In his visits to various corporations, Mr. Murphy often set what he considered acceptable levels of giving by the various companies. He recalls in one instance calling John H. Johnson, the president of Johnson Publishing Company, the parent company of Ebony and Jet magazines. He asked Mr. Johnson for a $100,000 contribution. Almost immediately, Johnson replied affirmatively. "My first thought," Murphy said, "was that I didn't ask for enough."
In his travels around the country, the GM chairman also told chief executive officers that it was to their benefit to contribute to the campaign even though they might not have any operations near any of the 41 schools in the program. "We told them that every businessman had a responsibility toward improving black education," Mr. Murphy said. He pointed out that the alumni of these schools were not affluent and the schools individually could not raise the large sums of money they needed. Businessmen apparently agreed with him.
At RCA Corporation, for example, Samuel Convissor, a vice-president, said RCA made its $75,000 contribution because "we felt a capital campaign was a major need for the colleges." Even though RCA has no plants in the South, where the most of the schools are, Mr. Convissor said the contribution fits in with its aid-to-education program, which last year came to $1,161,000. Of this, 30 percent went to minority aid.
The Kresge Foundation, in Troy, Mich., gave its $6 million (spread over a four-year period) as a "challenge grant." If Mr. Murphy successfully raised $50 million by this june, he could have Kresge's $6 million pledge. Alfred H. Taylor, president of the foundation, said the grant was made because "we feel the future of these colleges is important and his campaign addressed their survivability."
Originally, Mr. Murphy asked for more than $6 million from Kresge, since the foundation's primary types of grants are challenge grants that go to support building or renovation. However, the foundation decided on the $6 million figure, which was the largest grant in the foundation's 57-year history.