Harvard has now raised $6.1 billion in its University-wide capital campaign, and though the drive began with a $6.5 billion goal and a projected end year of 2018, Vice President for Alumni Affairs and Development Tamara E. Rogers ’74 reaffirmed Monday that Harvard will not raise that target.
“We would rather keep people’s eyes focused now on the purposes, rather than one single number,” Rogers said.
At this pace, Harvard will soon surpass the $6.5 billion mark, which would be a higher education record. Each individual school has now raised more than 50 percent of its goal, according to Rogers, and many initiatives have already reached or surpassed their targets.
Still, fundraisers are pushing areas that still have a ways to go. Those areas include developing the new science buildings in Allston, financial aid across schools, and supporting humanities studies. She also said the campaign is all the more important given national and federal cutbacks to funding sources.
“We’re in an era of scientific discovery that’s almost unparalleled, and it’s costly,” Rogers said. “That's something that we really want to stress and have prospective supporters understand why it’s also costly.”
As the alumni office often does, Rogers also highlighted the value of small gifts to the campaign, saying that Harvard has raised between $45 and $50 million per year from gifts of $10,000 or less.
Reflecting on the $6.5 billion public goal of the campaign, Rogers said she thought the target was ambitious enough when the campaign launched. As they were deciding on the target, administrators looked at their last campaign, during which Harvard had not raised gifts as large as those raised by its peer institutions, according to Rogers. Based on their second-tier performance on raising large donations in the last campaign, Rogers did not want to assume they would get top-tier gifts this time.
“We didn’t know if that was going to change in that campaign, and then it did,” Rogers said.
So far, the University has landed a $400 million gift from billionaire John A. Paulson to Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, $350 million from Gerald L. Chan to the School of Public Health, and $150 million from Kenneth C. Griffin ’89, much of it to the undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid Office. All three of these top donors received namesakes for their gifts.
Rogers and her team at Alumni Affairs and Development work closely with donors to “meet the donor’s philanthropic interest,” while still trying to advance Harvard toward the fulfillment of its campaign goals. Though fundraisers will not discourage people from donating to SEAS—which has exceeded its goal by nearly $150 million—Rogers emphasized that the office is looking to prioritize areas that have yet to make their targets in the second half of the campaign. When an alumnus, for example, has degrees from multiple schools, Rogers and her team mediate between various schools jockeying to court that donor.
“I would say that occasionally there are multiple interests, and we have to undertake a thoughtful collegial process in order to work them out,” Rogers said.
Occasionally, though, the goals of the donor do not line up with the needs or priorities of the campaign. Rogers acknowledges that sometimes Harvard cannot fulfill the philanthropic goals of each individual donor, but fundraisers make attempts to steer donors toward campaign initiatives.
“One could try in such a case to redirect and say you know you’re interested in this, but have you ever thought of that?” Rogers said.
—Staff writer Theodore R. Delwiche can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @trdelwic.
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