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Fundraising Leaders Strategize For Future Drives

By Jenny E. Heller and James Y. Stern, Special to The Crimsons

NEW YORK--At a celebration yesterday in the nation's financial center, Harvard's most generous benefactors and prominent administrators gathered to pat themselves on the back for a job well done.

But as they toasted each other in the ballroom of the Harvard Club, those who have cajoled and contributed on behalf of the five-year capital campaign reached a new consensus--that the $2.1 billion raised so far is not enough.

The next challenge is to keep the momentum behind Harvard's fundraising machine--something that will take both new donors and revised fundraising strategies.

Indeed, though Harvard has pulled in $2.325 billion, University administrators fear that the surplus will make donors reluctant to give further to Harvard, even though key areas of the campaign remain below their goal.

"There's always a concern that the end of a campaign signals to some people that the job is done," President Neil L. Rudenstine told The Crimson. "It's not as if the work stops."

The University must not rest on its laurels, Rudenstine said, in part because several important campaign goals have not yet been met, and probably won't be by the campaign's end on Dec. 31. Funding for libraries, science, endowed professorships and for a presidential discretionary fund are still below target, whereas some goals set at the campaign's conception have become obsolete.

Information technology has suddenly taken center stage. Better advising and facilities for the sciences have moved up on the agenda. Internationalization is the new buzzword.

"Some goals you don't anticipate," said Law School Dean Robert C. Clark. "They come up on you but you have to do something about them."

To help fund new projects not originally included in the campaign, the University may reallocate money to areas that now need attention.

"What you think of seven years ago are not, of course, precisely the goals of today," Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Jeremy R. Knowles said in an interview with The Crimson.

And no dean is ever quite satisfied, not even with $2.1 billion.

"We're in a state of permanent dissatisfaction at the Law School," Clark quipped in his comments to the assembled guests, echoing some of the other deans who spoke, in an attempt to explain the constant challenge of making ends meet.

In fact, the University puts its needs at closer to $4 billion. Before Rudenstine took over as president in 1991, the deans of each of Harvard's nine schools compiled a list of renovations, academic initiatives and other projects he wanted to complete in the near future: added together the sum is almost twice what Harvard has raised.

"When you ask the deans what they need, they always had more in mind," Fineberg told The Crimson.

For a large institution like Harvard, some administrators said, $2.335 billion is not that high a figure.

"When you spread it out [over 9 schools and several initiatives] it's not that large an amount," said Campaign Chair Rita E. Hauser.

The Future

University Provost Harvey V. Fineberg '67 described yesterday's event as an opportunity to look at how Harvard could deepen the relationships it has with its alumni and friends.

Those involved with the process said the University could be even more successful if it went out of its way to travel to donors and alumni and involved them in the process--known in the technical terms as improved "cultivation" and "stewardship" of donors.

We should "find ways where our alumni can contribute their ideas and criticism of programs, centers, departments and schools," Fineberg said.

He is looking into pulling together a provost's council, modeled after the

dean's councils at the various schools, that would enable alumni to participate in the discussions and directly advise the central administration.

Alumni are moving further from Cambridge; more and more women are joining the ranks of Harvard graduates. Harvard's fundraising efforts, Fineberg said, should reflect these changes--by holding more fundraising meetings on the West Coast and abroad and by soliciting money from more women in leadership positions.

Harvard did raise $190 million from alumni living on the West Coast and also managed to convince nearly 50,000 women to give money--capitalizing on another constituency that typically donated disproportionately small amounts to the University.

The future of fundraising for Harvard, numerous participants said, lies in convincing women and "Silicon Valley" wealthy to contribute.

"I asked at one of these meetings to see a list of the big donors," Hauser said. "Women were way behind in giving. It's a big untapped reservoir."

Hauser, a Law School alumna who has donated about $30 million over the course of the campaign, responded by setting up a Harvard Women's Matching Fund to encourage women's giving.

Hauser gave $5 million and helped the University raise $10 million to be used to match--dollar for dollar--every gift between $25,000 and $250,000 given by a woman. Within 60 working days, her challenge had been met. She and the University raised another $5 million that was also quickly matched.

Following the campaign, the University will change gears and focus on "targeted fundraising," raising money for very specific goals rather than for large areas needing attention. The Widener Library renovation is one such example.

"Nobody is going to lean on you to do another [campaign] like that in the near future," Rudenstine told The Crimson.

In afternoon meetings yesterday, those involved in the fundraising process pointed to a need to make a greater effort to matching donors with areas that interest them at the University. Targeted fundraising will do just that, allowing Harvard to find donors who are particularly passionate about certain projects.

Knowles said he doesn't foresee problems getting alumni support in the future.

"There is concern about what we are doing," Knowles said. "There is interest in what we are doing."

Interest may linger, but in the end the most important factor affecting philanthropy toward Harvard will be the economy, a reality not lost on those who toasted Neil Rudenstine and Alan Greenspan in the same breath.

Fundraising insiders privately talk of "donor fatigue." It remains to be seen how long Harvard's alumni and friends will continue to feel the philanthropic fury that has engulfed them for the past five years.

Or as one woman in attendance yesterday confided to a friend wryly, "I made the donation. Now I can't retire."

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