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Credit: Chase Sutton

Penn is formally launching its most ambitious fundraising campaign in University history. 

The campaign, which Penn's Board of Trustees voted to approve last month, will start on April 12 and last until 2021. 

The campaign is titled “Power of Penn Campaign: Advancing Knowledge for Good” and aims to raise $4.1 billion in four years, making it the most ambitious fundraising project in Penn history. 

Brian Lacy, founder and President of fundraising consulting firm Brian Lacy and Associates, said that this kind of increase in fundraising goals between campaigns is standard practice among universities. He added that ambitious universities like Penn spend months with experts planning the marketing strategy of the campaign, the campaign's title, its exact goal and the eventual allocation of funds.

"It's an amount of money they know how to spend if they get it and they also believe they know who will give it," Lacy said.

This is the second fundraising campaign conducted during Penn President Amy Gutmann's 14-year tenure. 

Credit: Kasra Koushan

The previous campaign, known as the Making History Campaign, exceeded its goal of $3.5 billion dollars by bringing in over $4.3 billion dollars — $3.6 billion of which came from cash receipts — from a total of 326,592 donors. The campaign launched in October 2007 and ended in late 2012.

During the Making History Campaign, Penn received its largest single donation in history from Raymond and Ruth Perelman, who gifted $225 million to the University to name the Perelman School of Medicine in 2011.

Over $2 billion raised by "Making History" went toward various research and programs, with other large amounts being spent on undergraduate financial aid, graduate financial aid, faculty and building construction.

The success of this campaign was a significant factor in Gutmann's total compensation increase to nearly $3.5 million. 

While the Making History Campaign had several goals, including the construction of new facilities and the integration of scholarship with social impact, the specific goals of this year's campaign remain unclear.

According to Lacy, universities like Penn with large endowments and large donations launch fundraising campaigns for two main reasons: to raise more money by creating excitement and to create a cultural change in the institution.

"When you want to change structurally something that the University is doing, you make a new campaign," Lacy said. 

University Spokesperson Stephen MacCarthy declined to comment on the approval of the new campaign, but added that a regional event tour around the campaign was laucnched in New York on April 19. Events on the tour will be open to Penn alumni and families.

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