With $4.3 billion, Making History is single-largest fundraising effort for Penn


The campaign exceeded original $3.5 billion goal back in Feb. 2011




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Easily surpassing its goal of $3.5 billion, Penn’s Making History campaign has brought in a total of $4.3 billion for the University, President Amy Gutmann announced to the Board of Trustees Thursday night.

The final campaign results mark the single-largest fundraising effort in Penn’s history.

Launched in October 2007, Making History finished with a total of more than 326,000 individual donors.

“The first reaction to the results is ‘wow.’ When we began planning this campaign, $3.5 billion seemed like an incredible stretch goal, and achieving $4.3 billion was just out of our sights,” Gutmann said. “Overarching what this campaign shows is the extraordinary commitment to Penn’s mission by all of our stakeholders.”

Making History — which began a “quiet phase” of fundraising in 2005 — collected an average of more than $1.25 million a day over the course of seven years. The campaign hit its overall $3.5 billion goal in September 2011, well before its scheduled close at the end of 2012.

“This campaign was a huge success by any metric out there, but it’s really the stories behind that overall success that makes it so significant,” Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations John Zeller said.

Some of those stories, Zeller said, include the impact that Making History will have on scholarships and financial support. The campaign raised $366 million for undergraduate financial aid, eclipsing its original benchmark of $350 million.

While Making History collected nearly $1 billion more than it set out to, the campaign did not come without its challenges along the way.

Soon after Making History started, Penn began to feel some of the effects of the economic recession. In fiscal year 2009 — which ended June 30, 2009 — the University collected $398 million in gifts, marking the lowest annual total over the course of the campaign.

Fundraising bounced back strongly in the following years, however, and Penn was largely able to stave off the worst of the financial crisis.

“In many ways, I think the most remarkable part of this is how our alumni continued to support us during the darkest depths of the recession,” Zeller said. “That, in and of itself, is a stunning story.”

When Gutmann formally launched Making History in 2007, she outlined a broad series of “core priorities” for the campaign. These included things like undergraduate and graduate financial aid, as well as faculty support.

Although the University surpassed its fundraising goal for undergraduate aid, it fell slightly short of its original target of $323 million for graduate support. Overall, Penn collected $286 million for graduate aid.

Similarly, Making History brought in $573 million of the $623 million it had initially set out to raise for faculty.

Zeller described the original core priorities as largely “aspirational” goals. He said the University made a conscious decision as the campaign progressed to focus less on the overall number and more on the impact that each donation would have on different parts of campus.

In addition to the University-wide core priorities, which made up $1.7 billion of the campaign, each school and center at Penn set an individual fundraising goal.

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Sixteen of the 18 schools and centers exceeded their targets, with Penn Medicine collecting nearly $1.4 billion — by far the most of any of its peers. Penn Medicine’s fundraising efforts also marked more than 30 percent of the campaign total.

The Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts and Penn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology fell slightly short of their targets, although the two centers raised $8.1 million and $49 million, respectively.

“When you have 326,000 people standing up to be counted, it’s an outpouring of support and a tribute to everybody,” Campaign Chair and Board of Trustees Vice Chair George Weiss said. “It’s a strong signal that our alumni love what Penn is about.”

In many ways, Board of Trustees Chair David Cohen added, Making History’s most significant impact will be felt among recent alumni who donated to Penn for the first time over the past few years.

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On top of young alumni donations, the campaigned received support from current undergraduates, with groups like Seniors for the Penn Fund playing a role in fundraising. Over the past seven years, about 1,500 members of each senior class have donated annually to Making History.

Student involvement “really added a lot to the energy of the campaign,” Zeller said. “Watching so many students get involved was a great thing to see.”

In April, Gutmann will host a University-wide celebration of Making History at Penn Park. Until then, she said she is eager to thank individual donors for their support throughout the campaign.

“I feel like I need to and want to thank over 326,000 people,” Gutmann said. “It’s an amazing feeling of gratitude and pride for what Penn stands for today and what we can do moving forward.”

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