Donation campaign surpasses $1.5 billion

Dalia Naamani-Goldman

Campaign Northwestern, NU’s billion-dollar fund-raising campaign, concluded Aug. 31 after surpassing its initial and revised goals.

Alan Cubbage, vice president for university relations, will release the final figures on Sept. 29, according to Penny Hunt, associate vice president for university development. The development office also will make a report to the board of trustees on Oct. 2, Hunt said.

Although Hunt said in July that the campaign had brought in $1.502 billion, the campaign continued for another month. The development office currently is accounting and finalizing the campaign’s donations, Hunt said.

Campaign NU’s fund-raising goals are divided into three specific fund-raising areas: endowment, facilities and university operations. In January the endowment and facilities fund-raising areas were $128 million short of the expected totals — although the overall Campaign NU goal was on target.

The largest fund-raising initiative in the school’s history, Campaign NU began in May 1998 and set its initial goal at $1 billion for August 2003. The university revised its campaign target in May 2001 to $1.4 billion due to its overwhelming success. After NU reached the second goal in December 2002 — eight months ahead of schedule — Campaign NU reset its goal again in January to $1.5 billion.

Large donations by several individuals have spurred the campaign toward its goals. In March 2000, university trustee Ann Lurie gave $40 million to begin construction of the Robert H. Lurie Medical Research Center on the Chicago Campus. The building is scheduled to be completed next summer.

University President Henry Bienen called Campaign NU “the most successful fund-raising effort in the university’s history” in the Fall 2003 edition of Northwestern Magazine. He wrote that some of the money already is in use and can be seen in the campus’ landscape, scholarships and fellowships, and faculty appointments.

NU is one of more than 20 U.S. universities that recently began or completed billion dollar fund-raising campaigns, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Like NU, Columbia University also met its campaign goal early, raising $2.79 billion between 1991 and 2000, an amount exceeding the school’s expectations by $59 million.

Jim McMenamin, principal gifts officer for Columbia, said certain schools are more likely to hit their proposed targets — or even surpass targets — if alumni maintain close connections with their alma mater.

“It has a lot to do with the tradition of giving within a school,” he said. “(Schools) have to reach out and involve and communicate with alumni.”

Ronald Vanden Dorpel, NU’s former vice president for university development and currently the senior vice president for advancement at Brown University, also said the secret to any fund-raising campaign’s success is strong alumni relations, as well as belief in the institution and the mantra, “Ask and you shall receive.”

He also said given the dismal economy over the last 18 months, he was impressed with the progress of Campaign NU.