2009 fundraising tops $50 million

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July 21, 2009

3:02 PM

The College of William and Mary raised a record-breaking $50.8 million in fiscal year 2009, the administration announced Tuesday.

That represents a 44 percent increase over the previous year’s fundraising total of $35.4 million.

“To have had an outstanding fundraising year in an environment where the state’s reducing its support and asking us to do plans for other support is really heartening,” Vice President for Finance Sam Jones ’75 M.B.A. ’80 said.

The College’s chief fundraiser, Vice President for University Development Sean Pieri, attributed the rise to several factors, including commitment from alumni and friends of the College and efforts on the part of College staff.

He also noted that College President Taylor Reveley played an important role.

“I think another reason [for the rise] is the steady leadership of Taylor Reveley,” Pieri said. “He’s done a wonderful job of bringing the William and Mary family sort of all back into the tent.”

Reveley came to power in February 2008 after the resignation of former College President Gene Nichol, who many felt had divided the College community. Last year, Pieri told The Flat Hat that Nichol’s tenure and subsequent departure likely hurt fundraising efforts.

Despite the sharp increase over 2008, the new fundraising total is only slightly higher than between 2005 and 2007, when the College raised around $49 million each year.

Of the $50.8 million received in 2009, $20.9 million was annual funds; $19.8 million was endowment funding; $7.9 million was for capital projects; and $2.1 million were gifts-in-kind, non-monetary donations such as art or land.

Less than 20 percent of the donations are from the Campaign for William and Mary, Pieri said. The campaign, which ended in 2007, raised over $500 million in cash or pledges for the College, much of which will be given to the College over the next few years.

Pieri said the College also gathered approximately $12 million in pledges, beyond the nearly $51 million received by the College last year.

Several large gifts account for a portion of the $51 million. Swem Library received three gifts of approximately $1.5 million each. The senior class gift totaled $156,203. One-third of a $6 million donation for a new Career Center came in last year.

The Board of Visitors also created an endowment for the Gateway program, which provides scholarships to low- and middle-income students to prevent incurring debt. That endowment provided more than $10 million of the fundraising figure.

“To be honest with you, for us, our ability to attract the best students, to attract students who might be going elsewhere to school, it’s very dependent upon financial aid,” Pieri said. “And Gateway’s just a piece of that. $10 million is a great step for that.”

Both Pieri and Jones noted that fiscal year 2010 fundraising could improve or worsen significantly, depending on how the economy progresses. There is no way to tell, especially only a few weeks into the new fiscal year.

They agreed, however, that private giving is an important — and growing — aspect of the College’s funding.

“In order for William and Mary to achieve the appropriate levels that they want to achieve, to be considered among the elite universities in this country, private support has got to play a critical role in that,” Pieri said. “I think universities and charities in general are going to have a very difficult next couple of years. That’s what makes this year that much more exceptional.”

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