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‘Campaign for MIT’ Raises $2B Mostly From Individual Donors

By Kelley Rivoire


MIT recently reached the two billion dollar mark in a seven-year fundraising campaign, Vice-President for Research Development Barbara G. Stowe announced at a meeting of the faculty last Wednesday. Sixty-six percent of the contributions came from individuals, a significant increase from previous fundraising efforts, Stowe said.

‘Campaign for MIT’ a success

The goal of the Campaign for MIT, which began in 1997 and was publically announced in Nov. 1999,was to raise 1.5 billion dollars. When this was achieved two years early in September 2002, the goal was elevated to two billion. The campaign will continue to take donations through the end of the calendar year, Stowe said.

Of the 2.02 billion dollars raised so far, 79 percent has been received, and an additional 11 percent is expected within the next 36 months.

The previous campaign, Campaign for the Future, which took place from 1987 to 1992, had a goal of 700 million dollars and raised 710 million, Stowe said.

Shift to individual donors

The Campaign for MIT had a record 66 percent of funds donated by individuals. In the previous campaigns, from 1987 to 1992, and 1975 to 1980, only 42 and 37 percent of contributions came from individuals, respectively.

“Historically, MIT relied on support from corporations and foundations” rather than alumni, Stowe said.

The “donor base has shifted to much more like our Ivy League peers,” Stowe said, and MIT has “turned to alumni in unprecedented ways.”

Of the remaining 34 percent of donations in the most recent campaign, 17 percent came from corporations, 14 percent from foundations, and three percent from other sources.

Some areas fall short of goals

Because contributions are often made for specific purposes, certain areas of funding exceeded their goals while others missed the mark.

Areas that have received funding equal to or above their goals are faculty chairs, educational projects, and unrestricted funding. The large amount of unrestricted funding will provide MIT President-elect Susan Hockfield with flexibility in her early months as president, said Stowe.

Areas that are projected to be unsuccessful in raising their target funds are scholarships and financial aid (180.7 of the 350 million dollar goal), construction and renovations (312 of the 450 million dollar goal), and undergraduate and student life programs (180.7 of a 350 million dollar goal). Stowe hopes that some of these gaps can be closed within the final months of the campaign, speculating that an additional 30 or 40 million dollars might be donated.

MIT competitive in fundraising

Fewer than ten other schools have completed successful two billion dollar campaigns, many of which have larger alumni bases, as well as medical and law schools, Stowe said. Of the universities that have raised two billion dollars, MIT has the largest goal to alumni ratio of 20,916 dollars.

MIT also has a relatively small fundraising staff, about 100 people, in comparison to Harvard, which has around 600, Stowe said.

Stowe hopes the success of the recent campaign will allow the staff to expand, especially as more staff will be needed to keep the more than 68,000 contributors from this campaign updated.

Next goal undetermined

The next capital campaign will likely begin in several years, Stowe said. She anticipates that “it won’t be a quick turnaround,” as there will be some adjustments when Hockfield becomes president.

Fundraising will continue between campaigns, and Stowe said she hopes to “maintain the momentum this campaign” has generated.

Stowe said that a campaigns provide a framework and goals for fundraising, but the “pace and intensity will not change” between campaigns.

MIT aims to raise 250 to 300 million on an annual basis, up from 100 million when the campaign started, Stowe said. She believes support from alumni will continue to meet the increasing demand for funds, she said.