April 30, 2013

Cornell Raises $500 Million Throughout 2012-13

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Working to eclipse what was Cornell’s best year of fundraising –– $773.8 million for the 2011-12 fiscal year –– the University has raised $500.1 million for the 2012-13 fiscal year ending on June 30, according to Richard Banks ’72, associate vice president for alumni affairs and development.

Though Cornell has “been running three to five percent ahead of last year consistently throughout this entire year,” the University does not believe that this year’s fundraising will be as successful as last year’s, according to Banks.

Banks said that Chuck Feeney’s ’56 $350 million donation for the tech campus made it possible for Cornell to raise as much money as it did last year.

“[That] doesn’t happen every year,” Banks said. “Nonetheless, the results this year will be very good –– among the best years in our history.”

Of the $500.1 million raised this year, $23.7 million was raised by the Cornell Annual Fund, which provides immediate-impact and unrestricted support to the University, according to Joseph Lyons ’98, director of the Cornell Annual Fund.The Cornell Annual Fund includes a fund for the University, a fund for undergraduate student aid, a fund for each of the undergraduate colleges and professional schools, as well as a fund for some of the university-wide units, such as athletics and Student and Academic Services, according to Lyons.“Every gift has an impact at Cornell, but gifts [to the Annual Fund] give the widest level of flexibility and also create an extraordinary impact, because our leaders can aggregate gifts at all levels from thousands of donors to invest in things they might otherwise not be able to,” Lyons said.Banks said that since the University launched of its “Cornell Now” fundraising campaign in October 2006 –– with a goal to reach $4.75 billion by 2015 –– Cornell has seen an overall “steady upward trend in giving.” “We were steadily increasing in giving until the financial crisis in 2008-09, which slowed giving dramatically for approximately 18 months,” Banks said. “We have been on a good growth trajectory since the economy began to recover back in 2010.”Echoing Banks, Charles Phlegar, vice president for alumni affairs and development, said the current stability of the stock market and economy has encouraged people to make donations over the last two years. Phlegar said the University’s Strategic Plan, which was launched in 2010 to outline Cornell’s educational and public engagement goals through 2015, “translates into a well articulated vision for the University and one that people can get behind and support.”Phlegar added that, overall, the Cornell NYC Tech Campus has had a “tremendously positive effect” on donations to the University on all levels. Banks said larger gifts –– such as Irwin Jacobs ’56 and Joan Jacobs’ ’52 recent $133-million gift to Cornell NYC Tech –– heavily influence the total amount the University raises each year.According to Banks, although larger gifts have a bigger impact on the total amount raised, gifts range in size and gifts average “in the vicinity of $750.”Lyons said a common misconception is the notion that small gifts do not make a difference; the reality is that “gifts of any size make a difference,” he said.“The percentage of alumni who give each year is included as a measure of alumni satisfaction in the US News & World Report [college] rankings,” he said. “Strong participation rates contribute to a strong ranking, and thus increase the reputation of Cornell and strengthen the value of a Cornell degree.”According to Banks, since the launch of the “Cornell Now” campaign in 2006, the University has raised $300 million in undergraduate scholarship support and continued to prioritize scholarships in its fundraising efforts.“The grants and scholarships we award help us recruit and enroll academically exceptional students from diverse economic backgrounds,” said Lee Melvin, associate vice provost for enrollment.Lyons said the University’s fundraising efforts are critical to ensuring that Cornell remains a “first-rate institution for education and research.”“Gifts help the University remain open to all, and ensures that we are not just a good university, but rather an exceptional university to study and learn at,” Lyons said.Lyons also emphasized the need to continue to engage current students and young alumni “to ensure Cornell remains the exceptional place we know it to be.”“We are investing in more student and young alumni programming that is beginning to have a great effect on our ability to raise money. … [For example, young alumni] just recently held a very successful Duff Ball in New York City that resulted in amazing participation and philanthropy from our young alums,” Phlegar said. “It is really a good time for philanthropy at Cornell.”

Original Author: Jonathan Swartz