"We know one of the key reasons people give is because they were asked," said Donna Howard, executive director of the UH Foundation. "But if nobody asks them, people aren't likely to send in a gift. It's a rare individual that does that."
The foundation, the private fund-raising arm of the university, plans to seek donations from UH alumni and local, national and international organizations.
Last year, the UH and UH Foundation received nearly $29 million in donations, up from $25 million in 1994.
Officials said the total this year is up 30 percent from a year ago and is again on a record-breaking pace.
UH President Kenneth P. Mortimer said most major public universities, including schools similar in size to the UH - the University of Oregon and the University of California at Davis - have completed successful fund-raising campaigns.
The attraction, he said, is to show donors the various ways they can help, such as setting up private financial aid scholarships, establishing endowments, and supporting professional development of faculty and UH activities.
"There is substantial private support and interest in supporting the university," he said.
The Board of Regents created the UH Foundation in 1955 to assist the university in setting and attaining major goals through private donations of cash or matching funds; honorary or memorial trusts; securities or property; and pledges.
Any donations, however, can't be used to pay for shortages in the UH operating or capital budgets or for repair or maintenance. Even so, cash and other donations continue to increase to the benefit the 10-campus system.
For example, TRW recently donated $6 million worth of electronic equipment to the UH College of Engineering. Other gifts-in-kind donations included a helicopter to Honolulu Community College, and fully-functional models of a heart and kidney to the UH nursing training program.
A bill to go before the House Finance Committee would amend state tax law to allow a charitable contribution of qualified educational technology - such as computer equipment - to the UH and the Department of Education to be deductible from taxable income, but only between Dec. 31, 1995, and before Jan. 1, 1998.
Major cash gifts to the UH include $9.6 million from the Pauley Foundation.
The donation allows the university to buy a privately held portion of Coconut Island and build a state-of-the-art laboratory for the Institute of Marine Biology.
Such gifts could also be used as scholarships for those facing fewer tuition waivers and higher tuition next school year or for endowments that bring in lecturers or professors a semester.