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Record Reunion Boosts Drive

Is $2.1B Campaign Back on Track Yet?

By Andrew A. Green

Despite what Development Office officials describe as a disappointing start, a record-setting fundraising effort from Harvard's reunions have made fiscal 1996 "an extraordinary year."

William H. Boardman Jr., director of University capital giving, said that a moderate and somewhat disappointing performance the last two years, which continued to some extent through this winter, had Development officials concerned.

But Boardman said a massive surge in giving this spring has helped put the campaign back on track.

"We're not out of the woods in doing ultimately as well as we would have liked, but this has been an extraordinary year," he said.

The turnaround has been spurred by active volunteer fundraising efforts in Boston and New York and on the west coast, Boardman said. According to Development Office figures, the efforts in conjunction with this year's reunions have paid off with record- setting performances by alumni.

Eight classes, including the Class of 1996, eclipsed previous bests for total giving, although participation percentages for alumni were slightly down this year.

According to the Development Office, it is difficult to calculate accurate participation numbers and overall reunion gifts because of the accounting problems posed by the multi-year gifts encouraged during the campaign.

But in most respects, he said, the University has overcome a slower start to this giving season with a banner performance.

Among record-setting classes were the Class of 1996, which totaled $44,900; the Class of 1941, which more than doubled the previous record for a 55th reunion; the Class of 1946, with close to $16 million; the Class of 1971, which reached $10.4 million; the Class of 1981, which raised the previous record for a 15th reunion from $1.6 million to $2.5 million; and the Class of 1991 which boasted $284,000.

Development Office officials said that class leadership in soliciting donations is the most important factor for success. David Dearborn '59, a Development Office staff member who works with several classes, including 1941 and 1946, said some classes have a high degree of organization and enthusiasm and are able to pull in high totals year after year.

A relatively high number of major gifts has also helped further this year's totals, Boardman said.

In the last 12 months, he said, there have been 50 gifts of more than $1 million and six gifts of $10 million-plus.

"[Major gifts] are not the only thing that makes the past year successful, but along with the day-to-day gifts, they have really helped to increase the momentum," he said.

As has been the case throughout the campaign, the focus in the last year has been on gifts to the individual schools as opposed to the newly-created University Fund, an innovation of President Neil L. Rudenstine designed to help increase inter-faculty initiatives and coordination in the University.

Boardman said, however, that the emphasis is beginning to shift to the University Fund for the second half of the campaign, and the expectation is that renewed efforts and administrative changes will enable the fund to reach its goals.

"Yes, are concerned with the state of the University Fund, but we are not surprised," Boardman said

Eight classes, including the Class of 1996, eclipsed previous bests for total giving, although participation percentages for alumni were slightly down this year.

According to the Development Office, it is difficult to calculate accurate participation numbers and overall reunion gifts because of the accounting problems posed by the multi-year gifts encouraged during the campaign.

But in most respects, he said, the University has overcome a slower start to this giving season with a banner performance.

Among record-setting classes were the Class of 1996, which totaled $44,900; the Class of 1941, which more than doubled the previous record for a 55th reunion; the Class of 1946, with close to $16 million; the Class of 1971, which reached $10.4 million; the Class of 1981, which raised the previous record for a 15th reunion from $1.6 million to $2.5 million; and the Class of 1991 which boasted $284,000.

Development Office officials said that class leadership in soliciting donations is the most important factor for success. David Dearborn '59, a Development Office staff member who works with several classes, including 1941 and 1946, said some classes have a high degree of organization and enthusiasm and are able to pull in high totals year after year.

A relatively high number of major gifts has also helped further this year's totals, Boardman said.

In the last 12 months, he said, there have been 50 gifts of more than $1 million and six gifts of $10 million-plus.

"[Major gifts] are not the only thing that makes the past year successful, but along with the day-to-day gifts, they have really helped to increase the momentum," he said.

As has been the case throughout the campaign, the focus in the last year has been on gifts to the individual schools as opposed to the newly-created University Fund, an innovation of President Neil L. Rudenstine designed to help increase inter-faculty initiatives and coordination in the University.

Boardman said, however, that the emphasis is beginning to shift to the University Fund for the second half of the campaign, and the expectation is that renewed efforts and administrative changes will enable the fund to reach its goals.

"Yes, are concerned with the state of the University Fund, but we are not surprised," Boardman said

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