Dordt University, Hoekstra, ask Sioux Center for $2 million

Glory Reitz– Staff Writer

Photo Credit: Northwest Iowa Review

Dordt University’s “Planting for the Future” capital campaign has been in the “quiet” stage of fundraising since 2019. In the “quiet phase,” a university rallies its strongest supporters while its fundraisers solicit major donors for substantial donations. Now, as the university prepares to take the campaign public, it has asked Sioux Center to contribute $2 million. The campaign’s goal is $71 million, distributed to various forms of improvement.

John Baas, Dordt’s vice president of advancement, said the campaign is sorted into three “buckets” of funding. The first portion of the money will contribute to Dordt’s goal of leading in innovative programs: building projects, academic centers, and research institutes. Some of these, like the recent nursing addition and Agriculture Stewardship Center, are already in the works or are completed.

The second bucket, used for “living in Christian community,” will fund the new Commons, a renovation of the B.J. Haan auditorium, an indoor turf facility, and enhance to existing athletic facilities.

The third bucket will go to student scholarships, which Baas said has been a priority for many donors. Dordt’s set the goal for the third bucket at $10 million, and donations have already exceeded $14 million.

“It’s fun to see the campus develop,” Baas said. “To have people who went here in the past or didn’t even go here invest in [students], I think that’s probably more foundationally exciting to me than ‘we got another building up.’”

On Sept. 27, Dordt asked the Sioux Center City Council to contribute $2 million to the campaign. Baas said the city has a history of financially supporting local entities in projects that benefit the community. He said many of Dordt’s “Christian community” projects add to the city.

Janna Hulstein has been capital campaign manager for two years, coordinating the donations. She said while Dordt is an asset to the Sioux Center community, it also draws support from people all over. She said even when Dordt was uncertain about whether to continue fundraising in the midst of a pandemic, donors continued to come through.

“It has just been two years of just over and over again being shocked by how generous people are,” Hulstein said.

Baas said most donations come from people who believe in Dordt’s mission and vision and want to make sure it can continue for generations. He said most donations in the “quiet” stage come from corporate donors and private foundations, but individual donations will start coming in when the campaign goes public.

Dordt University president Erik Hoekstra said widespread individual participation is his favorite part of a capital campaign like this one.

“The big gifts are important,” Hoekstra said. “What gets me excited is that God calls everybody to participate, and if it’s $25 or $100, and that’s how you participate, great. But that we can get everybody pulling together, that’s what excites me the most.”

Dordt has set a fundraising goal to reach before taking the campaign public, but they aren’t’ ready to share that goal or too many campaign specifics, in case the goals shift.  

Baas said he expects to reach that benchmark and go public with the campaign by early 2022. He estimates the university will reach their “Planting for the Future” goal in 2023.

This campaign is the largest Dordt has endeavored, with the $71 million goal. The last campaign ended in 2010 after raising $50 million.

Hoekstra said this campaign is aimed at the future: building new things, preparing scholarships for students, and filling Dordt’s endowment are all in hopes of maintaining the university’s quality “until Christ returns.”

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