Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 28
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
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Record Number of Alumni Participate in University’s Annual Giving Campaign

Dilshanie Perera

Princeton University recently announced that $48,582,819 was donated as part of its Annual Giving campaign, with 35,351 undergraduate alumni participating, a record number for the institution.

Aside from the donations by 60.8 percent of undergraduate alumni, contributions were made by graduate alumni, as well as parents and friends.

The Annual Giving campaign is a yearly effort to encourage contributions by alumni and friends to University operations. This year’s campaign is part of a larger, five-year push, called “Aspire: A Plan for Princeton,” to raise $1.75 billion for University operations and projects. “We hope to close the campaign in two years,” said Assistant Vice President of Development for Development Relations Justin Harmon.

“As of June 30, the University has raised $1.237 billion, which is 71 percent of the campaign goal, and 71 percent of the campaign period has elapsed,” said Mr. Harmon, pointing out that they are exactly on target to meeting their contribution goal for the Aspire campaign.

Charitable donations made to the University through Annual Giving go to the general fund, which is “used on a current basis to support all ongoing teaching activities, initiatives like student aid, and other important programs,” Mr. Harmon observed, adding, “capital gifts represent the rest of the Aspire priorities.”

Mr. Harmon noted that such capital projects and the contributions that go to funding them “are directed more specifically toward individual initiatives, like the creation of a the Neuroscience Institute, or the Sustainability Initiative.”

The larger capital donations may be spurred through a dialogue with the University President. “Where is your greatest need?” is a question Mr. Harmon characterized donors asking. “The flow is very much one of the faculty and academic administrators thinking together of what will advance the program, the work of the faculty, and the experience of the students. That process works through the Provost’s Office and the President’s Office.”

Annual Giving, by contrast, works each year to support the workings of the University, and to perhaps kickstart a program that seems particularly important and that may be funded in future years through capital contributions, Mr. Harmon said.

As for how the process works, Mr. Harmon reported that approximately 2,400 alumni volunteers call their classmates to inquire about donations, while another 225 capital fundraising volunteers “make requests directed to capital programs.”

University development staff consist of “about 60 frontline fundraisers, divided between annual giving and capital giving,” with another 90 to 100 positions involved in communications, events, research, gift planning, and record keeping, he added.

While development efforts like Annual Giving go to funding the University’s operations, approximately 50 percent of its annual budget comes from its endowment.

University Spokesperson Emily Aronson said that in the fiscal year 2010 (from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010), the operating budget for the University was $1.3 billion, with 48 percent of it funded by the endowment.

The projected operating budget for FY 2011 is $1.36 billion, with 46 percent of the budget to be funded through endowment revenue.

As of June 30, 2009, the University’s endowment was valued at $12.61 billion, with its current value to be reported in late September or early October of this year, Ms. Aronson noted.

Financial difficulties arising from the economic collapse and the loss of endowment assets caused the University to cut $170 million from its operating budget for FY 2010 and FY 2011. A staff reduction target of $15 million was part of this savings goal, and was announced in October 2009, according to Ms. Aronson.

The reduction was achieved through “a combination of vacancy and overtime savings, voluntary retirements, voluntary and involuntary reductions in duty time, and layoffs,” Ms. Aronson acknowledged. University layoffs affected 43 positions that were eliminated, and an additional 18 positions saw reduced hours.

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