News

Harvard Law School Makes Online Zero-L Course Free for All U.S. Law Schools Due to Coronavirus

News

For Kennedy School Fellows, Epstein-Linked Donors Present a Moral Dilemma

News

Tenants Grapple with High Rents and Local Turnover at Asana-Owned Properties

News

In April, Theft Surged as Cambridge Residents Stayed at Home

News

The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained

Squeezing Dollars From Alums

THE MONEY TREE The first in an occasional series on fundraising

By Jonathan N. Axelrod

Harvard wants your money.

No, not just the tuition required to attend classes, or the fees for room and board, or the expenditures at the Coop. That's only the tip of the iceberg.

In order to maintain its position as the richest university in the world, Harvard has to go much further than collecting required payments, into the realm of fundraising.

As a consequence, the school has developed one of the most sophisticated development apparatuses in the academic world. According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, last year Harvard ranked 11th nationally in contributions received among all charitable organizations and first among universities.

Harvard's success in this area has allowed it to amass an endowment of $6 billion, far and away the highest in the country.

Currently, the school is running a University-wide capital campaign with a goal of $2.1 billion, a sum unprecedented in academia. To reach that goal, in the words of President Neil L. Rudenstine, "will require the University to raise $1 million a day."

But the impressive numbers require a lot of effort--most of which is focused on University alumni. While Harvard gets its share of big gifts from non-graduates, the majority of its donations comes from those with ties to the school.

Much like the aura of a University degree, requests for contributions will follow Harvard students for the rest of their lives--especially if they make enough money following graduation to make a "substantial" gift to their alma mater.

From Beginning to End

Students receive their first exposure to Harvard's fundraising network before they even get their diplomas. From the first year of college onward, the Parents Fund solicits all undergraduate parents for donations in excess of the approximately $25,000 they are already paying yearly.

Members of the Class of '95 have already received letters encouraging them to contribute to the Senior Gift. Seniors should get used to the calls and letters associated with the Gift--Harvard friends or possibly minor acquaintances will be calling them before every reunion in search of contributions for Harvard.

And most of them will end up contributing. This past year, a majority of the College's alumni contributed to the school. Even more remarkable, according to Joseph O'Donnell '67, a University fundraiser who chaired his 25th reunion drive, between 85 and 90 percent of alumni contribute to their 25th reunions.

Procuring that amount of donations is obviously not one of the easiest tasks. Ernest E. Monrad '51, chair of the Divinity School's current fund-drive, calls donating "an unnatural act of divesting oneself of money."

Long-time University donor and fundraiser Albert F. Gordon '59 says the best rainmakers manage to "squeeze blood out of a rock."

Most students are completely unaware of the extent of the fundraising machine, yet there is an entire office, the University Development Office (UDO), devoted to gathering funds for Harvard.

Aside from the University office, all 10 schools have their own development offices--which have been known in the past to compete with each other more than Harvard would like to admit. Also involved are hundreds of alumni volunteers who are responsible for most of the actual requests for money.

The Start of the Process

Much like the FBI, the UDO keeps detailed files on people it's interested in--i.e., all alumni. Harvard's files, however, only contain a variety of information focused around the financial status and general interests of the alumni.

According to John C. Whitehead, former president of the Board of Overseers, "the two keys to fundraising are research and cultivation."

The University uses the UDO information to guide its fundraising efforts.

"The most basic job of the office is to set priorities for the University then go out and test them against real world priorities," UDO Director Thomas P. Reardon '60 says. "Development forces the University to carefully examine its priorities because there is only so much money."

What makes Harvard so successful in the field, according to all sources contacted is the research system it has established, which Monrad calls "legendary."

The information in alumni files ranges from the activities the person participated in while a student to his or her present salary and make of car.

"They have an incredible system where anything that comes out in the press ends up in an alumnus' file--including stuff from local papers in places like Akron, Ohio," a development employee says. "The people are amazing at picking out Harvard alumni."

The office checks major news dailies--including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Boston Globe--and then relies on alumni to send in other information from other news sources.

Reardon says, however, the major source of information for the office is the questionnaires the University sends to all its alumni every five years.

He emphasizes that all the information in alumni files comes from the public domain and no attempt to gain confidential information is ever made.

But the office goes beyond questionnaires and newspaper sources when compiling its files.

An example of the process at work is described by Monrad: "I read prospectuses through my work, so I know how much a lot of them [classmates] are making and I send them [Harvard] proxies I come across. It gives you a good start, you also know who lives in Wayland and who lives in the slums and who drives a Mercedes."

As well as compiling files, the University's office has screening sessions to get graduates' input on their classmates.

In these sessions, particularly common during reunion years, groups of alumni are brought in to review lists of their classmates who they know, in terms of giving ability. At the meetings, the UDO figures out who would be most likely to "rattle the purses," in Monrad's words.

Getz says that the ratings the UDO looks at are not based on inclination to give, but the ability to do so.

According to Joel A. Getz '86, First Marshall and University fundraiser, the same names are given to several different people to review. By going through a lot of estimates of the same person's giving ability, the development office manages to put together a fairly clear picture.

Based on the information in the folders, the alumni are ranked on their ability to give from Z to 12As, with the A rankings reserved for millionaires, according to a development employee.

Each school's development office, however, works slightly differently. For example, the Law School relies only on the questionnaire and not on "alumni hearsay," according to Randy Lakeman, a development officer in the Law School's research division.

"People are rated not only for their ability to give, but also for their willingness to give," Lakeman said. "For example, an alum like [Viacom head] Sumner Redstone ['43-'44] has more money than most people, but you have to see if he has anything to do with the Law School."

Lakeman and Reardon both say that a large percentage of the alumni disclose their financial situation on the questionnaire.

Cultivation

The research the development office gathers is geared for only one purpose--to help bleed money out of donors.

Harvard must do a lot of "cultivation," the term used in the philanthropic industry to describe the process of courting a donor in the hopes of getting a contribution.

"Everything starts with an interested donor, idealism and the notion of generosity," Reardon says. "But there is an education process we use to try to get those people to give."

Getz says that every class is made up of people with differing abilities to give money and that only a few will be able to give large gifts. It is from these large gifts, however, that Harvard obtains the most money.

"90 percent of the donations come from three percent of the donors," Gordon says. In his own 35th reunion class, of which he was co-chair, $8.9 million was raised with $5 million coming from four people.

Though all alumni will be subject to mailings, phone-a-thons and reunion year approaches for contributions, the development office saves much of its firepower for the big guns.

According to Reardon, the UDO provides different amounts of information depending on what the individual requires, whether it means a brochure or a meeting with a faculty member. The office has many different methods, tailored for individual potential donors.

"Once you identify people, you nurture the relation through dean's weekends at the College or grad schools," says Overseer Peter L. Malkin '55. "It's hoped everyone at the weekends will give within their abilities. They are a combination of people willing to give and people who recruit people who have major potential."

The actual courting process varies from person to person, but Lakeman provided an outline of the typical situation, if that can be said to exist.

"Cultivation begins with the people who work here paying a call on a person, getting seen and hopefully getting a donation to the annual fund or a capital gift," he says. "Then the person may get seen by a dean. You go out and schmooze these people--invite them to events, have deans call them, give them advance word on large gifts--and eventually the relationship becomes closer and less contrived."

Lakeman emphasizes that this process "can go on for years," as it often has with the University's largest gifts.

The Approach

Certain members of the Harvard bureaucracy are renowned for being particularly good fund-raisers.

Across the board, people say Rudenstine is a "fantastic" fund-raiser. Daniel C. Tosteson '46, dean of the Medical School, is described by Gordon as "unreal."

Getz adds, "The alumni love [Dean of the Faculty Jeremy R.] Knowles, and among professors [Plummer Professor of Christian Morals Peter J.] Gomes is really good."

Harvard's best fundraisers all have their own favorite patterns and theories for approaching donors, but they all agree on one thing: the fund-raiser must be deeply committed to the cause.

"First you give money yourself and tell them you have found it worthy," Malkin says. "In order to convince them that the cause in general and in specific is worthwhile, you have to convince yourself first."

"You have to convince yourself you had a positive experience," says O'Donnell, "and hope they agree."

As Gordon sums up, "It's not hard asking for money, because I give myself."

But, beyond the necessary qualifications for someone to ask for money, the approach differs from donor to donor and fundraiser to fundraiser. The development office takes special consideration in determining who will approach the donors.

"If someone is a good prospect, after they [the UDO] investigate they form a battle plan and put it into effect," Gordon says. "But no one from the development office itself ever actually tries to get any contribution over $25,000."

"The school definitely looked for people with a common interest," Whitehead says. "It you're trying to get money from someone in Saudi Arabia, you'll try to send an alumnus from Saudi Arabia. If you're looking to someone from Kansas, you'll try to get a classmate from there."

"They try to choose someone who you like," Monrad adds. "Clearly you don't choose the person who black-balled them from a club."

The main source of Harvard's success in fund-raising, according to Reardon, is in the willingness of alumni to volunteer their time. The alumni who make calls to big donors are not paid.

But the University attempts to make its helpers happy by doing things to make them feel appreciated. Some of them are invited to events held to honor donors of large gifts.

Others are recognized through the mass of publicity which the development office puts out to try to focus on the volunteers more. Getz, for example, received the second most pledges of any College Fund fund-raiser and was given credit for his achievement in the fundraising bulletin sent out by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

Once the proper person has been chosen to make the approach, the attempt is finally made to get the money.

"You call the person--who you already are an acquaintance of--and say you want to see them and let them know what your goal is," Malkin says. "Tell them why you think it's worthy and why it's really needed.... It's not easy to get them to give, but you tell them what you've done and why it's a wonderful opportunity to be associated with the best university in the world."

"One year I gave 10 percent of my income," Monrad remembers. "If you tell someone who makes $100,000 that, they feel they have to give $10,000 to be competitive. Most successful people are competitive, and they also compete in giving away their money."

Monrad adds that some gifts come in because people like to show off how well they are doing. "I've heard this happens at the Business School--even though I'm sure they'd deny it," Monrad says half-jokingly.

"At Harvard it's not fashionable to gush support, but it is to give money," Gordon adds. "At other places it's vice versa."

For most donors, though, the fundraiser merely builds on an already present commitment to Harvard.

"You give because you connect with it, no matter what anybody tells you," says Richard L. Menachel, one of the University Campaign co-chairs.

According to fundraisers, the largest contributions come from "old friends," and thus all that needs to be done is request money from those already familiar with the process. Even then, though, as Monrad says, "you gotta ask or you're not gonna get."

Part of being a successful fund-raiser is the key skill of knowing what to ask for. That's where the development office's research becomes important.

The person asking knows how much the target can potentially give and can make appeals to any specific interests from University days which a donation could further.

Reardon emphasizes that in most cases the essence of fund-raising is fitting people to their desires.

"Most people want to focus on the human aspect," Reardon says. "In the last campaign, the most money went to financial aid, with chaired professorships next and physical plant contributions last."

In the present campaign, the naming of a chaired professorship cost about $2.5 million and the naming of an independent scholarship fund would require at least a $100,000 donation.

Harvard? Need Money?

Harvard's moneyed reputation can be a hindrance in fundraising. Many people doubt that Harvard actually does need money and one of a fundraiser's main jobs is to convince the target that a gift is really important.

"The people really have to believe the money is necessary," O'Donnell says. "As a scholarship kid I see it as necessary to continue the need-blind admissions that are so important to me."

O'Donnell says there are a few basic things that convince people that the money really is necessary.

One is making the donor realize that the real cost of a student is far greater than the tuition; the University has to subsidize tuition even for full-paying students. O'Donnell says he also focuses on the need to make Harvard accessible to everyone through financial aid.

Reardon is careful to point out that Harvard is "huge...bigger than Yale, Princeton and Amherst put together," and that though its endowment is the largest in the country, its per-student endowment is not. The endowment only pays for a relatively small part of the $1.4 billion annual operating budget.

In the College, a student paying full tuition, room and board fees turns over about $25,000 per year. The actual per-student cost, however, is higher, with estimates ranging from Rudenstine's $35,000 to $50,000, according to Lynn G. Fakes, director of the Parents' Fund.

Beyond Money

Assuming a donor is successful in obtaining a contribution, the University fundraising structure immediately attempts to indoctrinate the donor and to increase his or her involvement.

In order to do this, Harvard has developed an extraordinary number of methods. As Gordon puts it, "Some people like ego massaging and Harvard is a great place for it."

"Successful people particularly resent people just taking their money," Monrad says.

Harvard differs from many other universities, though, by limiting the degree of reciprocity that can be expected from a contribution.

"There is no quid pro quo per se," Getz says. "At Harvard, a donor's place is to [donate], not run the University."

According to a development officer, Ivy League schools are accused of taking the children of large contributors, but Harvard, aided by its riches, does not have to do such things.

Harvard officials all deny it, and claim the request itself is rare.

The University does try to involve significant donors to some extent, however, often using alumni weekends at Harvard.

Gordon describes these meetings, which draw between 300 and 400 couples, as a prime fund-raising ground for repeat givers. While there is no set criteria for an invitation, a "dedication to Harvard" is needed and the individuals are either large donors or fund-raisers.

Some events are reserved for members of the President ($25,000) or Associate ($10,000) giving levels. The cocktail parties at such events are where "the real action occurs," according to Gordon, and the location of many key individual fundraiser/donor conversations.

Another common method, according to Gordon, is for a dean or a prominent faculty member to hold a dinner in a city such as New York and invite seven couples or so to discuss the University and its future. These events make donors feel like they are helping to run Harvard, Gordon adds.

Membership on University visiting committees is yet another way for Harvard to reward donors and fundraisers. Every four or five years such committees, made up of professionals in the field, interested alumni and at least one Overseer each, evaluate departments to see how they are doing.

In this way, donors can actually play a minor role in policy making.

And though fundraisers emphasize that everyone attempts to shield Rudenstine from most of the day-to-day fundraising duties, large donors expect to have the deal finalized with the president. Rudenstine has been known to stay up all night writing thank-you notes to donors by hand, for example.

A significant contributor is probably guaranteed one meeting with the president if he or she wants it, Gordon says. "But if they want to have another one, they had better not waste it," he adds.

Ideally, the University would like every donor to become a fundraiser. "It's not easy," says Monrad. "For some inexplicable reason people are reluctant to ask [others] for money. It's almost like asking about their sex life."

Notable Gifts

While some other well-known schools have been embarrassed because of gifts they later regretted, notably Yale with its much-publicized donation from the Bass brothers for Western studies. Harvard has been careful to avoid any such public fiascoes.

But that doesn't mean that fundraising at Harvard always goes along expected lines. Two of Harvard's most famous and significant gifts came about in very different ways from the norm.

The Countess Albina du Boisrouvray's $20 million gift to the School of Public Health progressed along the typical lines, if such things can be said to exist for such a large gift--with the exception of the fact that she had no previous ties to Harvard.

According to Reardon, Boisrouvray had worked with AIDS patients in the past, establishing a network of hospices for kids with AIDS. She then realized she wanted to do something about prevention and ended up calling Professor of Epidemiology Jonathan M. Mann '69 because she had heard of some of the work he was doing with AIDS.

After a few years of discussions, she decided to make the landmark donation to the AIDS Institute.

"Outside gifts are sometimes a problem because the people have different goals," Reardon says. "But this was an instance where we had a long-term involvement and common interests--that's when it works."

The landmark gift from John Shad, the former chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission, to start an ethics program at the Business School came about in a very different way. As John H. McArthur, dean of the Business School, relates the story, Shad had been involved with the school for some time and asked if he could meet with McArthur.

They arranged to meet in a New York hotel and McArthur arrived first. Shad, looking quite disheveled, shuffled in, dropped an envelope on McArthur's table, still carrying his suitcase under one arm and briefcase under the other and then shuffled out to put his coat and bag away.

In the enclosed letter, Shad wrote that he was frustrated with the lack of ethics he had seen in recent years and offered to put up several million dollars for a new ethics program.

When Shad walked back to the table. McArthur told him if he raised the offer one million, McArthur would add another million from his own fund. After that meeting, they entered into further discussions and the eventual gift, though never disclosed, was reported in the press to be in the neighborhood of $20 million.Crimson File Photo

What makes Harvard so successful in the field, according to all sources contacted is the research system it has established, which Monrad calls "legendary."

The information in alumni files ranges from the activities the person participated in while a student to his or her present salary and make of car.

"They have an incredible system where anything that comes out in the press ends up in an alumnus' file--including stuff from local papers in places like Akron, Ohio," a development employee says. "The people are amazing at picking out Harvard alumni."

The office checks major news dailies--including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Boston Globe--and then relies on alumni to send in other information from other news sources.

Reardon says, however, the major source of information for the office is the questionnaires the University sends to all its alumni every five years.

He emphasizes that all the information in alumni files comes from the public domain and no attempt to gain confidential information is ever made.

But the office goes beyond questionnaires and newspaper sources when compiling its files.

An example of the process at work is described by Monrad: "I read prospectuses through my work, so I know how much a lot of them [classmates] are making and I send them [Harvard] proxies I come across. It gives you a good start, you also know who lives in Wayland and who lives in the slums and who drives a Mercedes."

As well as compiling files, the University's office has screening sessions to get graduates' input on their classmates.

In these sessions, particularly common during reunion years, groups of alumni are brought in to review lists of their classmates who they know, in terms of giving ability. At the meetings, the UDO figures out who would be most likely to "rattle the purses," in Monrad's words.

Getz says that the ratings the UDO looks at are not based on inclination to give, but the ability to do so.

According to Joel A. Getz '86, First Marshall and University fundraiser, the same names are given to several different people to review. By going through a lot of estimates of the same person's giving ability, the development office manages to put together a fairly clear picture.

Based on the information in the folders, the alumni are ranked on their ability to give from Z to 12As, with the A rankings reserved for millionaires, according to a development employee.

Each school's development office, however, works slightly differently. For example, the Law School relies only on the questionnaire and not on "alumni hearsay," according to Randy Lakeman, a development officer in the Law School's research division.

"People are rated not only for their ability to give, but also for their willingness to give," Lakeman said. "For example, an alum like [Viacom head] Sumner Redstone ['43-'44] has more money than most people, but you have to see if he has anything to do with the Law School."

Lakeman and Reardon both say that a large percentage of the alumni disclose their financial situation on the questionnaire.

Cultivation

The research the development office gathers is geared for only one purpose--to help bleed money out of donors.

Harvard must do a lot of "cultivation," the term used in the philanthropic industry to describe the process of courting a donor in the hopes of getting a contribution.

"Everything starts with an interested donor, idealism and the notion of generosity," Reardon says. "But there is an education process we use to try to get those people to give."

Getz says that every class is made up of people with differing abilities to give money and that only a few will be able to give large gifts. It is from these large gifts, however, that Harvard obtains the most money.

"90 percent of the donations come from three percent of the donors," Gordon says. In his own 35th reunion class, of which he was co-chair, $8.9 million was raised with $5 million coming from four people.

Though all alumni will be subject to mailings, phone-a-thons and reunion year approaches for contributions, the development office saves much of its firepower for the big guns.

According to Reardon, the UDO provides different amounts of information depending on what the individual requires, whether it means a brochure or a meeting with a faculty member. The office has many different methods, tailored for individual potential donors.

"Once you identify people, you nurture the relation through dean's weekends at the College or grad schools," says Overseer Peter L. Malkin '55. "It's hoped everyone at the weekends will give within their abilities. They are a combination of people willing to give and people who recruit people who have major potential."

The actual courting process varies from person to person, but Lakeman provided an outline of the typical situation, if that can be said to exist.

"Cultivation begins with the people who work here paying a call on a person, getting seen and hopefully getting a donation to the annual fund or a capital gift," he says. "Then the person may get seen by a dean. You go out and schmooze these people--invite them to events, have deans call them, give them advance word on large gifts--and eventually the relationship becomes closer and less contrived."

Lakeman emphasizes that this process "can go on for years," as it often has with the University's largest gifts.

The Approach

Certain members of the Harvard bureaucracy are renowned for being particularly good fund-raisers.

Across the board, people say Rudenstine is a "fantastic" fund-raiser. Daniel C. Tosteson '46, dean of the Medical School, is described by Gordon as "unreal."

Getz adds, "The alumni love [Dean of the Faculty Jeremy R.] Knowles, and among professors [Plummer Professor of Christian Morals Peter J.] Gomes is really good."

Harvard's best fundraisers all have their own favorite patterns and theories for approaching donors, but they all agree on one thing: the fund-raiser must be deeply committed to the cause.

"First you give money yourself and tell them you have found it worthy," Malkin says. "In order to convince them that the cause in general and in specific is worthwhile, you have to convince yourself first."

"You have to convince yourself you had a positive experience," says O'Donnell, "and hope they agree."

As Gordon sums up, "It's not hard asking for money, because I give myself."

But, beyond the necessary qualifications for someone to ask for money, the approach differs from donor to donor and fundraiser to fundraiser. The development office takes special consideration in determining who will approach the donors.

"If someone is a good prospect, after they [the UDO] investigate they form a battle plan and put it into effect," Gordon says. "But no one from the development office itself ever actually tries to get any contribution over $25,000."

"The school definitely looked for people with a common interest," Whitehead says. "It you're trying to get money from someone in Saudi Arabia, you'll try to send an alumnus from Saudi Arabia. If you're looking to someone from Kansas, you'll try to get a classmate from there."

"They try to choose someone who you like," Monrad adds. "Clearly you don't choose the person who black-balled them from a club."

The main source of Harvard's success in fund-raising, according to Reardon, is in the willingness of alumni to volunteer their time. The alumni who make calls to big donors are not paid.

But the University attempts to make its helpers happy by doing things to make them feel appreciated. Some of them are invited to events held to honor donors of large gifts.

Others are recognized through the mass of publicity which the development office puts out to try to focus on the volunteers more. Getz, for example, received the second most pledges of any College Fund fund-raiser and was given credit for his achievement in the fundraising bulletin sent out by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

Once the proper person has been chosen to make the approach, the attempt is finally made to get the money.

"You call the person--who you already are an acquaintance of--and say you want to see them and let them know what your goal is," Malkin says. "Tell them why you think it's worthy and why it's really needed.... It's not easy to get them to give, but you tell them what you've done and why it's a wonderful opportunity to be associated with the best university in the world."

"One year I gave 10 percent of my income," Monrad remembers. "If you tell someone who makes $100,000 that, they feel they have to give $10,000 to be competitive. Most successful people are competitive, and they also compete in giving away their money."

Monrad adds that some gifts come in because people like to show off how well they are doing. "I've heard this happens at the Business School--even though I'm sure they'd deny it," Monrad says half-jokingly.

"At Harvard it's not fashionable to gush support, but it is to give money," Gordon adds. "At other places it's vice versa."

For most donors, though, the fundraiser merely builds on an already present commitment to Harvard.

"You give because you connect with it, no matter what anybody tells you," says Richard L. Menachel, one of the University Campaign co-chairs.

According to fundraisers, the largest contributions come from "old friends," and thus all that needs to be done is request money from those already familiar with the process. Even then, though, as Monrad says, "you gotta ask or you're not gonna get."

Part of being a successful fund-raiser is the key skill of knowing what to ask for. That's where the development office's research becomes important.

The person asking knows how much the target can potentially give and can make appeals to any specific interests from University days which a donation could further.

Reardon emphasizes that in most cases the essence of fund-raising is fitting people to their desires.

"Most people want to focus on the human aspect," Reardon says. "In the last campaign, the most money went to financial aid, with chaired professorships next and physical plant contributions last."

In the present campaign, the naming of a chaired professorship cost about $2.5 million and the naming of an independent scholarship fund would require at least a $100,000 donation.

Harvard? Need Money?

Harvard's moneyed reputation can be a hindrance in fundraising. Many people doubt that Harvard actually does need money and one of a fundraiser's main jobs is to convince the target that a gift is really important.

"The people really have to believe the money is necessary," O'Donnell says. "As a scholarship kid I see it as necessary to continue the need-blind admissions that are so important to me."

O'Donnell says there are a few basic things that convince people that the money really is necessary.

One is making the donor realize that the real cost of a student is far greater than the tuition; the University has to subsidize tuition even for full-paying students. O'Donnell says he also focuses on the need to make Harvard accessible to everyone through financial aid.

Reardon is careful to point out that Harvard is "huge...bigger than Yale, Princeton and Amherst put together," and that though its endowment is the largest in the country, its per-student endowment is not. The endowment only pays for a relatively small part of the $1.4 billion annual operating budget.

In the College, a student paying full tuition, room and board fees turns over about $25,000 per year. The actual per-student cost, however, is higher, with estimates ranging from Rudenstine's $35,000 to $50,000, according to Lynn G. Fakes, director of the Parents' Fund.

Beyond Money

Assuming a donor is successful in obtaining a contribution, the University fundraising structure immediately attempts to indoctrinate the donor and to increase his or her involvement.

In order to do this, Harvard has developed an extraordinary number of methods. As Gordon puts it, "Some people like ego massaging and Harvard is a great place for it."

"Successful people particularly resent people just taking their money," Monrad says.

Harvard differs from many other universities, though, by limiting the degree of reciprocity that can be expected from a contribution.

"There is no quid pro quo per se," Getz says. "At Harvard, a donor's place is to [donate], not run the University."

According to a development officer, Ivy League schools are accused of taking the children of large contributors, but Harvard, aided by its riches, does not have to do such things.

Harvard officials all deny it, and claim the request itself is rare.

The University does try to involve significant donors to some extent, however, often using alumni weekends at Harvard.

Gordon describes these meetings, which draw between 300 and 400 couples, as a prime fund-raising ground for repeat givers. While there is no set criteria for an invitation, a "dedication to Harvard" is needed and the individuals are either large donors or fund-raisers.

Some events are reserved for members of the President ($25,000) or Associate ($10,000) giving levels. The cocktail parties at such events are where "the real action occurs," according to Gordon, and the location of many key individual fundraiser/donor conversations.

Another common method, according to Gordon, is for a dean or a prominent faculty member to hold a dinner in a city such as New York and invite seven couples or so to discuss the University and its future. These events make donors feel like they are helping to run Harvard, Gordon adds.

Membership on University visiting committees is yet another way for Harvard to reward donors and fundraisers. Every four or five years such committees, made up of professionals in the field, interested alumni and at least one Overseer each, evaluate departments to see how they are doing.

In this way, donors can actually play a minor role in policy making.

And though fundraisers emphasize that everyone attempts to shield Rudenstine from most of the day-to-day fundraising duties, large donors expect to have the deal finalized with the president. Rudenstine has been known to stay up all night writing thank-you notes to donors by hand, for example.

A significant contributor is probably guaranteed one meeting with the president if he or she wants it, Gordon says. "But if they want to have another one, they had better not waste it," he adds.

Ideally, the University would like every donor to become a fundraiser. "It's not easy," says Monrad. "For some inexplicable reason people are reluctant to ask [others] for money. It's almost like asking about their sex life."

Notable Gifts

While some other well-known schools have been embarrassed because of gifts they later regretted, notably Yale with its much-publicized donation from the Bass brothers for Western studies. Harvard has been careful to avoid any such public fiascoes.

But that doesn't mean that fundraising at Harvard always goes along expected lines. Two of Harvard's most famous and significant gifts came about in very different ways from the norm.

The Countess Albina du Boisrouvray's $20 million gift to the School of Public Health progressed along the typical lines, if such things can be said to exist for such a large gift--with the exception of the fact that she had no previous ties to Harvard.

According to Reardon, Boisrouvray had worked with AIDS patients in the past, establishing a network of hospices for kids with AIDS. She then realized she wanted to do something about prevention and ended up calling Professor of Epidemiology Jonathan M. Mann '69 because she had heard of some of the work he was doing with AIDS.

After a few years of discussions, she decided to make the landmark donation to the AIDS Institute.

"Outside gifts are sometimes a problem because the people have different goals," Reardon says. "But this was an instance where we had a long-term involvement and common interests--that's when it works."

The landmark gift from John Shad, the former chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission, to start an ethics program at the Business School came about in a very different way. As John H. McArthur, dean of the Business School, relates the story, Shad had been involved with the school for some time and asked if he could meet with McArthur.

They arranged to meet in a New York hotel and McArthur arrived first. Shad, looking quite disheveled, shuffled in, dropped an envelope on McArthur's table, still carrying his suitcase under one arm and briefcase under the other and then shuffled out to put his coat and bag away.

In the enclosed letter, Shad wrote that he was frustrated with the lack of ethics he had seen in recent years and offered to put up several million dollars for a new ethics program.

When Shad walked back to the table. McArthur told him if he raised the offer one million, McArthur would add another million from his own fund. After that meeting, they entered into further discussions and the eventual gift, though never disclosed, was reported in the press to be in the neighborhood of $20 million.Crimson File Photo

Want to keep up with breaking news? Subscribe to our email newsletter.

Tags