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October 26, 2000

Vice chancellor outlines strategy for fund-raising

The University's fund- raising campaign, which began with its "quiet" phase July 1, 1997, is launching its "public" phase this week. Typically, major fund-raising efforts attempt to reach at least half the overall goal before going public.

Pitt's campaign is expected to run through June 2003, according to Carol A. Carter, vice chancellor for Institutional Advancement. Carter gave an update of the campaign, including a recap of last fiscal year's cash support, to the University Senate budget policies committee (BPC) Oct. 13.

She reported the amount of committed money to date and the campaign's total goal to BPC, but declined to announce the numbers publicly. (Carter later declined to comment on published reports that the goal was $500 million.) She said the official announcement will come Oct. 28 as part of Discovery Weekend.

"We're going to be disciplined in reporting funds for this campaign," Carter said. "Every pledge is locked up by a signed agreement of the donor and the University before we count it."

Carter said Pitt's FY 2000 cash support set an all-time record at more than $82 million. Of that amount, annual giving fund donations totaled about $12.7 million and capital gifts added up to about $69.3 million. "That counts cash and charitable gifts only. No sponsored research is included in the $82 million."

Carter said total giving has been on the upswing since 1994, including a 24.6 percent increase between FY 1999 and the recently completed fiscal year. "Our rate of giving is accelerating about twice the rate of increase as our peer [American Association of Universities (AAU) public] institutions. From 1995 through fiscal year 2000, we've gone up in cash support by 108 percent. Taking numbers from 1995 to 1999, the last year figures are available, our peers have risen about 58 percent."

The goal, she said, was to raise $100 million annually, which would place Pitt about in the middle of the AAU public universities.

Regarding the overall campaign, Carter said the quiet phase has focused on major gifts from foundations, corporations and individuals. The public phase includes the kick-off weekend, targeted regional campaigns and an annual giving fund challenge.

"Development officers will continue to raise major gifts centrally, including foundation and corporate support, just as they've been doing the past three years," she said. "But we're adding two other layers of effort, a regional campaign targeting 10 cities with our largest alumni representation, to raise our number of commitments at the $10,000-$50,000 level, and an annual giving fund challenge which will provide matching funds for any [individual's] increase of $100 or more over last year's gift."

The matching gifts will come from "annual fund challengers," selected alumni from each school who will donate, or have donated, at least $10,000. She said she hoped that the matching pool of funds will reach $250,000 University-wide.

The challenge effort will be launched next spring, she said. "It's human nature to like a challenge. We want people to get into a pattern of multi-year giving, so we can count the commitments made toward the campaign. It also gets people into the good habit of giving every year."

The targeted regions include: Pittsburgh, Boston, Philadelphia, the New York City/New Jersey area, Washington, D.C., Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boca Raton/south Florida and Naples, Fla.

Mailings and follow-up contact by volunteers in those areas are expected to target the 20,000 prospects who were invited to Discovery Weekend, and some 55,000 alumni and friends of Pitt who are identified as potential donors by Institutional Advancement.

Additionally, she said, the University hopes to maintain an experienced corps of regional fund-raising volunteers at the conclusion of the campaign.

Carter said that among the sources of money generated by the campaign, private foundations are the giving leaders.

"Historically, we've been behind the curve of our peer institutions in corporate and individual support, while private foundations have led in giving to Pitt," she said. "Part of that is attributable to the work going on here and part because we're in a city where there's a better chance with foundations given our proximity, including the Heinz, R.K. Mellon, and the various Scaife foundations."

Pitt ranks in the top 15 nationally in private foundation support, she added.

Particularly encouraging in the campaign, Carter said, is the increase of named endowments during the quiet phase. "Individuals want their name to live on in perpetuity connected with the University. We began with 545 named endowments before July 1997, including some below the $10,000 level, which were named before we had [University-wide] policies in place." The minimum amount for a named endowment opportunity is $10,000, she said.

The total of named endowments as of this Oct. 1 was 694. The campaign goal is 750.

Carter said dean's-level chairs may be named for gifts of $2.5 million (two commitments to date); endowed chairs for $1.5 million (24 to date); professorships for $750,000-$1 million (7 to date); endowed faculty or postdoctoral fellowships for $500,000-$1 million and graduate student fellowships for $250,000 (seven to date); full scholarships for in-state students, $100,000, and partial scholarships, $50,000 (116 total to date).

Of the 149 new named endowments, 41 are in the Health Sciences. The campaign's largest single gift is $12 million from the Heinz Foundation. Twenty-four individuals have pledged $1 million or more.

Gifts in the range of $10,000-$50,000 may be targeted for student resources through the 21st Century Scholarship Fund, which is administered by the Admissions office based on need. Such gifts may establish a named fund for undergraduate research projects or books, lab fees, travel or other educational expenses in a selected department. "Alumni have a real affinity there, because a lot of them had some form of financial aid when they were at Pitt," Carter said.

The Institutional Advancement leader said Pitt's fund-raising efforts have benefited from success on the football field. "We've learned from our student callers, who say to prospective donors, 'We beat Penn State in football, let's beat them in annual giving,' that donors really respond to that," Carter said.

She said Penn State had the highest alumni giving headcount in the nation during FY 1999. "This isn't the most amount given, of course, it's the highest number of individuals who gave," running in the low-20 percentile of Penn State's alumni.

Pitt's annual giving runs at about 17-18 percent of the total alumni, she said.

Carter said she was optimistic that all the campaign goals would be reached. "There are outside factors, such as the stock market, which are out of our control. It's expendable income that people give from; we get very few gifts from equity. There's never really a perfect time to have a campaign. Our research shows that giving is emotional, and we can't predict that kind of giving."

–Peter Hart

Filed under: Feature,Volume 33 Issue 5

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