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With Additional Target, Business School Charts Separate Fundraising Course

Massachusetts Hall
Massachusetts Hall houses many of Harvard's central administrators.

Throughout Harvard’s capital campaign, the refrain has been constant: despite the University’s rapid fundraising success, it would not raise its $6.5 billion goal.

But, in an apparent deviation from fundraising practice at the rest of the University, the Business School announced last week that it will seek to raise an additional $300 million after having reached its $1 billion goal.

Like other schools, the Business School will raise the money to fulfill remaining priorities in its capital campaign, but it is the only school at Harvard that has announced a new fundraising figure as part of that effort.

In an interview earlier this month, University President Drew G. Faust reiterated that Harvard’s overall goal will remain the same, but that the University will focus on areas in which it has not yet reached its goals.

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“I think Harvard Business School just decided it would say ‘let’s keep going,’ and it’s fine; that’s their goal,” Faust said. “But our goal overall is the same.”

Faust added that the Business School did consult with the University’s central administration before announcing their additional $300 million goal.

“They said they really felt they wanted to do that, because it motivates their donors very much to have a goal, to be competitive, so they wanted to do it and we said go ahead,” Faust said.

Other Ivy League universities, including Columbia, have upped their fundraising goals during successful capital campaigns. Harvard surpassed its $6.5 billion goal last year, and the current campaign is the first Harvard has conducted University-wide.

Ellen Harkavy, director of the Business School’s campaign, wrote in an email that the school is not raising its official fundraising goal.

“But having surpassed our $1B target, we have set our sights internally on raising an additional $300M for our four key priority areas: HBS Fund, associate professorships, MBA fellowships, and realizing the vision of ‘One Harvard’,” Harkavy wrote.

Harkavy said the additional $300 million will go towards fulfilling the Business School’s “unfilled buckets” of need. Rather than set an internal benchmark for meeting the remaining priorities, as the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and several other campaigns are currently doing, the Business School decided to make the matter public.

Higher education fundraising expert Arthur Criscillis said it is not unusual for campaigns to reach the overall goal, but not individual targets within that goal.

“That happens in far more campaigns than not,” Criscillis said.

Before schools decide on their fundraising goals, Michael T. Kerr ’81, co-chair of the Harvard College Fund, said they come up with their needs and formulate a “wish list.” Kerr said that list is modified to fit the projected capacity of alumni donors, and that a school’s actual fundraising needs are often higher than the stated goal.

“In almost every case, and for most of the schools, that need, that potential need, is greater than what you set as your target simply because you have all this benchmarking,” Kerr said, referring to setting campaign goals against goals at institutions with similar alumni bases.

Kerr said campaign organizers are also able to predict what gifts they will receive.

“So you create a target. You never want to create a campaign target that you don’t accomplish,” Kerr said. “That’s just like a cardinal rule of fundraising, and if you’re an institutional fundraiser like Harvard with the reputation of Harvard, if Harvard sets a $6.5 billion target, we’d better make it.”

Kerr said he did not have an answer for why the Business School was announcing a public figure, while other campaigns are internally shifting gears.

“Maybe because they’re the Business School,” Kerr said. “I think the University and probably the FAS, our feeling is that we want to keep working with donors on specific needs, specific projects that we want to get funded, and we’d rather do it that way.”

The University’s fundraising drive will end in 2018.

—Staff writer Leah S. Yared can be reached at leah.yared@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @Leah_Yared.

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