Penn looks to sustain fundraising efforts
Sixteen of the 18 participating schools and centers at Penn surpassed their Making HIstory goals
March 10, 2013, 7:13 pm·
With Penn’s Making History campaign having come to a close, some are turning their attention away from the fundraising drive and to a new question: what’s next?
The University announced at the start of spring break that the seven-year fundraising effort had finished with $4.3 billion — well over the $3.5 billion goal set at the outset of the campaign.
Sixteen of the 18 schools and centers at Penn also surpassed their individual campaign goals.
“This campaign was enormously successful, but fundraising doesn’t end here,” Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations John Zeller said. “As we move forward, we’re really looking to sustain the progress we saw throughout the campaign and grow it over time.”
Continuing to grow
While most emphasized that little will change with how the University fundraises now that Making History is over, some acknowledged that it may be difficult for Penn to sustain the annual donation levels it saw over the course of the campaign.
“You can certainly expect to see a leveling off of fundraising in the next few years, when the University doesn’t have the campaign to rest on,” said Graduate School of Education professor Joni Finney, who researches higher education finance. “That’s going to be something they need to take into account, especially when it comes to long-term budget planning.”
Before fundraising for the campaign began in 2005, some schools on campus raised less than a quarter of what they do today.
The Law School, for example, collected between $6-8 million annually before the campaign began. Now, it averages $15-25 million per year, said Penn Law Vice Dean for Development and Alumni Relations Elizabeth Brown.
Similarly, the School of Social Policy & Practice increased its seven-year average fundraising from $1.8 million per year from 1999-2005 to $4.1 million per year from 2006-12, SP2 Dean Richard Gelles said.
Penn’s last fundraising campaign ended in 1994, with the University collecting about $1.4 billion. Both Zeller and President Amy Gutmann emphasized that there are no plans to launch another campaign in the near future.
“I’m unaware of any dean who would want to revert to raising less money, so the assumption is that we’ll continue to work just as hard to increase those annual totals — with or without the campaign,” Brown said.
School of Engineering and Applied Science Dean Eduardo Glandt added that, although fundraising tends to increase near the end of a University-wide campaign like Making History, most donors aren’t necessarily motivated by Penn’s timeline.
“You have to go with the wishes of the donor and where the good ideas are,” he said.
Although two of the University’s centers — the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts and the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology — fell slightly short of their respective goals, both emphasized that the campaign succeeded in building relationships with prominent donors who will continue to give in the future.
“We don’t have a natural alumni base or tuition dollars coming in, so our challenge just to engage folks here is great,” Director of Development for the Annenberg Center Jane Kamp said. “The campaign opened doors for us by engaging so many alumni with whom we hadn’t had relationships before.”
The Annenberg Center raised $8.1 million of the $9.8 million it had set out to collect during the campaign, which ended in December 2012. Kamp said that fundraising has remained stable so far in 2013.
“I think that a campaign adds a fantastic momentum for all of the schools and centers to operate within,” Director of Development for the Penn Museum Amanda Mitchell-Boyask added. “But the fact that we don’t have a campaign anymore doesn’t mean that our goal is going to change at all.”
An uncertain future
With federal budget cuts looming over some of Penn’s schools, some believe that donor support — perhaps now more than ever — is going to be critical for the University moving forward.
Meleis called the government’s failure to reach a deal on the upcoming sequestration cuts a “disaster.” She said that sequestration may ultimately lead to a 5-percent cut across the board for the Nursing School’s research and practice budget.
Sequestration could also lead to the University as a whole losing about $40 million in research funding from the National Institutes of Health — which finances much of Penn’s research.
“Philanthropy is certainly going to help temper some of these cuts, but it’s not a reasonable expectation to say that it’ll totally alleviate them,” Zeller said. “There’s no way you can replace that amount of money.”
In the face of these cuts, Glandt said it will become increasingly important for Penn to use its fundraising resources to come up with annual budgets that are more “sustainable.”
In particular, he credited Making History with moving more endowment money into financial aid than ever before, calling it a “real success story” of the campaign.
When the campaign began, Penn Executive Vice President Craig Carnaroli said, about 10 percent of financial aid at the University came from endowment resources. Seven years later, that number has doubled to more than 20 percent.
Having more financial aid resources coming directly out of funds that are invested in the endowment gives Penn more flexibility in other areas of the budget, Carnaroli explained.
“As much as possible, we prefer as deans to get endowments for scholarships for our students,” Meleis added. “I always tell our alumni that, if they want their impact to be felt long term, they should consider putting up support for an endowment … Like this campaign, that’s how our impact is going to be felt years from now.”