The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 13.0°F | Fair and Breezy

Donations to MIT Decrease in ...06 Over $300 Million Pledged in First Fiscal Year of Hockfield...s Presidency

By Curt Fischer

Donations to MIT decreased for fiscal year 2006, the first complete fiscal year following the $2.05 billion, seven-and-a-half-year capital campaign that ended in December 2004. Receipts for fiscal year 2006, which ended June 30, 2006, totalled $241 million in cash and $301 million pledged, reported Stephen A. Dare, interim president for resource development. MIT averaged $273 million per fiscal year in fundraising receipts during the capital campaign. Fiscal year 2006 is also the first complete fiscal year under the tenure of President Susan Hockfield.

MIT continued its elevated reliance on individual donations, with individual donors accounting for 68 percent of receipts in fiscal year 2006. Individual donors accounted for 66 percent of the total in the most recent capital campaign, and for less than half of the proceeds in prior fundraising drives.

Monica L. Ellis ’91, director of the Alumni Association’s Alumni Fund, said that a slight downturn in receipts is not unusual immediately following a capital campaign. In the wake of MIT’s largest capital campaign ever, administrators are focusing on increasing alumni participation, meaning the fraction of alumni who financially contribute to MIT, rather than just the bottom line.

“Overall participation tends to drop during a capital campaign,” said Ellis. For fiscal year 2006, 31,545 individuals alumni donated to MIT, which amounted to a participation rate of 32%. “In the past it was way higher than that,” said Ellis, but “participation has remained pretty constant over the last five years.”

Hockfield and Martin Y. Tang GM ’72, alumni association president for 2006, have prioritized increasing alumni participation. This effort may have the side benefit of boosting MIT’s national rankings, since “US News & World Report and some of the other reports like that use alumni giving” as a metric of alumni satisfaction with a university, said Ellis.

The Alumni Association has started to increase use of e-mail and web communications to alumni in order to bolster donations, said Ellis. Tang, for his part, said that he planned to soon announce a fundraising challenge in which he would match to some extent donations from recently graduated alumni.

The annual fund, administered by the Alumni Association, is the destination of individual gifts of less than $100,000. It grossed $33.5 million in fiscal year 2005 and $35.9 million in fiscal year 2006, said Ellis.

The end of the last capital campaign also saw the retirement of Charles M. Vest and Hockfield’s ascension to the presidency. Interim vice president Dare has served in his role only since the July 2006 retirement of Barbara G. Stowe, but he downplayed the effects of recent turnovers in MIT’s senior administrative and fundraising ranks.

“We have strong stability —much more than other institutions,” said Dare, who mentioned his 8 years of experience at MIT as well as the long MIT experience of Provost L. Rafael Reif and associate provosts Phillip S. Khoury, Claude R. Canizares, and Lorna J. Gibson.

Where is all the money going? Two big priorities for Resource Development are expanding MIT’s cancer research presence and funding Hockfield’s energy initiative. For the Alumni Association’s annual fund, current priorities are the perennial favorites of “unrestricted gifts”, student life organizations, and financial aid for both undergraduates and graduate students.

The Alumni Association has eighty full-time staff, with 17 dedicated exclusively to managing the annual fund. Dare’s staff members at the department of resource development total 150.

Will MIT soon announce its next major capital campaign? “That’s for the Corporation to decide,” said Dare.