Colleges Struggle to Meet Fundraising Goals

Posted by on July 4, 2003

[posted by Philanthropy News Digest]

Colleges Struggle to Meet Fundraising Goals

Colleges that set ambitious fundraising targets in better times are now scrambling to achieve their goals in a sluggish economy, the Washington Post reports.

Leery of setting the bar too high, higher education fundraisers traditionally have researched and evaluated campaign goals with extreme care. But while colleges routinely surpassed their goals just a few years ago, many are now facing shortfalls as the June 30 deadline for many campaigns approaches.

At Georgetown University (<a href=""></a>) in Washington, D.C., the unexpected early success of an eight-year fundraising campaign led officials to bump their initial goal of $500 million to $750 million and, eventually, $1 billion. After two years of declining contributions, however, the total just days before the official end of the campaign stands at $923 million — hardly a failure, but a surprise nevertheless in the tightly choreographed world of college fundraising.

As a result of the shortfalls, many schools are delaying construction projects, scaling back scholarship programs, and/or lowering the price tag on endowed chairs. "In the salad years, when the stock market was high and everyone was feeling euphoric, you could go to a wealthy donor with a long list of options for support, and they could pick and choose what they’d do," said Eric C. Johnson, vice president for resource development at Houston’s Rice University (<a href=""></a>), which is $62 million short of its $500 million goal. Now, however, "the reaction is, ‘Gee, can I put this off until the market improves?’"

Argetsinger, Amy. "Fundraising Gets Tougher for Colleges."
Washington Post 06/17/03.
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