Georgetown University’s largest fundraising campaign to date began in stealth. The mission for the drive was mapped out, top donors were quietly contacted, and, when enough commitments have been secured to build a sense of momentum, the grand announcement—fireworks and all—will finally be made.
That moment will come for Georgetown next September, Vice President for Advancement James Langley said in an interview last week, when the University will end a four year-long quiet phase and officially unveil its largest fundraising campaign to date with a target of $1.5 to $2 billion.
Georgetown has raised $520 million towards its goal so far. The final goal of the campaign will be approximately 40 percent of what has been raised by the time of the announcement, Langley said.
The upcoming campaign will aim to double what was raised during the University’s last drive, the Third Century Campaign, which raised $1 billion and concluded in 2003.
The largest chunk of the money raised—roughly one third—will go towards increasing the University’s financial aid, an initiative announced earlier this year. The next largest portion will fund initiatives that support faculty excellence, including endowed chairs and visiting professorships.
No more than one fifth would be devoted to capital projects, such as construction of the new science center, which was delayed last spring because of the recession.
Donors increasingly prefer to donate to programs for students and faculty than to the physical infrastructure of the University, according to Langley.
“You may need more brick and mortar but if so, you’re going to resign yourself to working much harder for that dollar,” Langey said.
Georgetown had planned to launch the campaign in April 2010, but pushed the date back because of the financial crisis and other factors, Langley said.
The quiet phase, which has been going on for over three years, is designed to build support for the campaign preceding its launch.
“Donors don’t like to jump on a bandwagon with wobbly wheels,” Langely said.
Georgetown’s endowment, currently valued at $900 million, is dwarfed by the endowments of other universities ranked in the top 25 by U.S. News and World Report.
According to Chief Financial Officer Chris Augostini, Georgetown is dependent on its fundraising and the relationships it builds with likely donors, in order to begin matching the resources of its peers.
“Focusing on growing that prospect base year in and year out … is the key, I believe, to our strategy,” Augostini said.
“We do have the ability through increased giving to narrow that gap.”