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University raises $62 million during fiscal year 2011

By Sara Dejene
On September 6, 2011

The University received $62 million in fundraising cash for the fiscal year 2011, which is a $10 million dollar decrease in fundraising from the previous year, according to Director of Development Communications David Nathan in an email to the Justice and an August 2010 BrandeisNOW press release.

This is the 12th consecutive year that fundraising has totaled over $60 million, according to Senior Vice President of Institutional Advancement Nancy Winship in an interview with the Justice.

As of June 30, the University endowment totaled $703.7 million, according to Nathan.

In his fall letter to the Brandeis community, University President Frederick Lawrence said that fundraising has been "strong" and that the endowment is now almost up to its "pre-crash level," referring to the economic recession in 2008.

"We made up almost all of what was lost," said Winship.

Winship attributed the earlier decrease in the endowment to both the economic recession and the presidential transition.

According to Winship, donors were hesitant to give money because of the new president and uncertainty surrounding his direction of the University.

"Donors were hesitant to give as much, because [Lawrence] was new and they didn't know where, or in what direction, he would be taking the University," said Winship.

Despite uncertainty from donors, Winship said that Lawrence was an excellent "natural" fundraiser.

"We were able to counter [the economic recession and presidential transition] because of Fred's energy and his work with the development team," said Winship.

"In just eight months on the job, [Lawrence] has made strong connections with alumni and friends around the world," according to Nathan in his email.

Nathan continued to write that Lawrence has hosted large events with alumni in locations such as Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New Jersey, New York City, Long Island and Westchester County, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Israel, Rome and Vienna, all during his first six months in office.

According to Winship, Lawrence places an emphasis on financial aid for students during fundraising, and she said that his constant interaction with students allows him to effectively advocate for them.

"The University's top fundraising goal continues to be securing funds to meet the growing financial aid needs of Brandeis students," wrote Nathan in his email.

Winship said that about 60 percent of donations come from friends of the University—donors who do not have any direct connection with Brandeis but choose to give to the school.

This is because Brandeis is a relatively young institution, so the majority of alumni are young compared to alumni of similar schools, and not necessarily capable of giving much money to the University, according to Winship.

Winship and Nathan both said that they plan to continue to establish and maintain connections with alumni and wait until they are financially able to give back to the University.

Nathan wrote that alumni donations totaled $14.4 million, a 26 percent increase from the previous year.

In addition, the University remains in the top 10 percent of colleges and universities in the country with alumni participation, according to Nathan.

"Alumni support is a key indicator of the health of a university because it shows how graduates feel about their educational experience," wrote Nathan.

Another indicator is student participation in the senior class gift, wrote Nathan.

Last year a record 71 percent of the Class of 2011 contributed to the senior class gift, according to his email.

Last year, Lawrence matched the senior class gift, which totaled $11,748.35. Lawrence has agreed to match the senior class gift again, said Winship.

Nathan also wrote that more donors are going online to give back to the University.

According to Nathan, 2,169 donors online gave a total of $698,573.

Nathan and Winship said that they are optimistic about fundraising efforts under Lawrence and that they have a long-term goal to build the endowment.

According to the Office of Development in an October interview with the Justice, the Board of Trustees put forward a goal to raise the endowment to over $1 billion by 2013 or 2014.

Winship said that the University is still on track to meet that goal despite recent obstacles and the threat of another economic recession. 

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