University honors its benefactors at ceremony 


The annual Heritage Circle event, held by the UNLV Foundation, recognizes donors

After receiving more than $38 million in donations, gifts and donation commitments in 2011, the UNLV Foundation recognized its benefactors during the annual Heritage Circle event on Dec. 3.

“The Heritage Circle are all donors to the university who have made a future commitment,” said Senior Associate Vice President for Development and Executive Director at the UNLV Foundation Nancy Strouse.

Strouse added that the commitments are either planned gifts or placing UNLV in estate plans.

“So when you think about it you normally then wouldn’t recognize those people until after they’ve passed away,” Strouse said. “But instead what we do is we have the Heritage Circle so that we can recognize them now.”

She added that the event is to recognize the people that have helped the university while they are alive, instead of when they die, so that current and potential donors feel closer to the university.

Members of the Heritage Circle are invited on campus a couple of times a year and are often taken to the Nevada Conservatory Theater or to an athletic event.

Director of Gift Planning at the UNLV Foundation H.R. Beekman said that people sometimes donate money with a specific purpose or benefit.

He added that a donor will ask that the donated money go to setting up a scholarship for a specific program or to a specific student group, like ethnic groups, students with high GPAs or those who are from a certain state. But, the bulk of the money goes directly into existing scholarships.

“Some of the people in the room are people who have [donated to UNLV],” Strouse said. “Some are people that are just learning about us, and some are financial planners and attorneys who bring their clients to us. And tonight what we hope to accomplish is for people to have a good time and just feel a little bit closer to UNLV.”

Strouse also said that events like these are informal and help donors get to know how their contributions are benefiting UNLV.

“What we’ve also found, interestingly enough, is that once people participate with us, get to know the students, get to know the campus, they actually make current gifts,” Strouse said. “We have one donor, for instance, who started to fund a fellowship in the College of Sciences. And that’s now with dollars today, but then we also know that we have a gift coming at some point later.”

Chelsea Sendgraff, a UNLV student and employee of the UNLV Foundation, said that the foundation gets donations not only from UNLV alumni, but also from local businesses.

“We get a lot of support from alumni especially, but other people who own casinos and other properties in Las Vegas definitely donate to UNLV,” she said. “I think it gets people excited about the university; the stuff that we’re doing here and in the community.”

Beekman said that the vast majority of these donations are approximately $2,000 per person, per year.

“It’s not about asking for money,” Beekman said. “As much as it is helping people see how they can be used in others’ lives … in this case students.”

Beekman stated that UNLV is a logical place for business people or “entities,” such as Wells Fargo, to contribute in order to draw people and employees into the area and also to keep them in Las Vegas.

“Wells Fargo sponsors Heritage Circle events,” Beekman said. “They see it as part of their responsibility to the community.”

Contact David Serabian at [email protected]