Fundraising down during ’08 fiscal year

The College of William and Mary’s annual fundraising decreased over the past fiscal year, which ended June 30. The College raised $35.4 million in the 2007-2008 fiscal year, a nearly $14 million drop from the previous year’s record-high $49.3 million.

Vice President for Development for the College Sean Pieri said the drop was expected after the Campaign for William and Mary ended.

“This drop was anticipated, as a matter of fact, two years ago,” he said. “It’s natural after a campaign to see some drop in the cash flow.”

College President Taylor Reveley agreed with Pieri.

“I think that sort of diminution is sort of predictable right after you finish a campaign,” Reveley said in an August interview with The Flat Hat. “I think partly too it’s a function of a slowing economy.”

Pieri added that the record $49.3 million from the previous year included a $7.5 million land gift for the School of Education’s new site. The low ’08 number could also be lower due to deferred gifts from the Campaign for William and Mary and the February change in leadership from former College President Gene Nichol to Reveley.

Despite the drop, Pieri says the first quarter of this year, which ends this month, is “way up.” Although he says he is worried about the economy, Pieri hopes to continue the early success for the rest of the year.

“We will probably do somewhere north of $40 million this year,” he said. “With a little luck, a lot better than that.”

Vice President for Strategic Initiatives Jim Golden is using these numbers to plan for the College’s financial future.

“Certainly we all recognize that fundraising is going to be a very important part of the College’s future,” he said. “We are very much aware that the state has lots of competing demands on very limited resources and we really appreciate what they’ve been able to give us. The reality is the state is only providing about 20 percent of our operating requirements at the moment.”

Golden said he also expects the numbers to go up this year.

“We will be feeling the benefit of the $500-million campaign as commitments made under that campaign are actually delivered to us and we get the cash,” he said. “But we know that to do that we’ve got to have some very clear messages of what our strategic priorities are and how that funding will be used very effectively to benefit things that potential donors will recognize as really important for the College.”

Reveley also agreed that a more aggressive fundraising strategy is needed.

“It’s getting deadly serious about the development effort, what it needs to do to raise more annual giving, more endowment giving, more capital giving, and it’s this really focused effort to try to distill our message in ways that are winsome and appealing to people,” he said.

Golden explained that the College has a smaller donor base than many other nationally ranked universities for several reasons, including its small size and lack of professional schools in medicine or engineering.

“We need to find ways to build that same kind of loyalty to William and Mary that other schools like Princeton and Dartmouth and our other peers enjoy,” Golden said. “That would make a huge difference in our financial situation, if we can increase the participation in annual giving.”

In addition, Golden said Reveley has stressed building a base of alumni donors.

“That’s a major focal point that President Reveley has underlined for all of us, that we need to establish more effective communications [and] relationships with our alumni,” Golden said. “If we can increase annual giving, those are funds that flow directly into the budget each year. The campaigns are wonderful … but annual giving is translated immediately into support for our programs.”

Reveley and the rest of the administration say that the College’s financial model is changing.

“The era of being state supported and privately assisted is over, is dead as a doornail, is never coming back,” Reveley said. “We have no alternative but to figure out how to make an era of privately supported, publicly assisted work for this college in this town. So let’s all get the message and let’s get serious about it and let’s pull together and make it happen.”


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