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Stanford has record-breaking year raising funds
STANFORD -- Stanford University raised nearly $313 million in the 1995-96 fiscal year, reflecting a record year in fundraising and an increase in participation rates of alumni.
Bolstered by a successful ongoing effort to increase the number of alumni donors and by a large gift from David Packard's estate to complete the Science and Engineering Quadrangle, contributions to Stanford last fiscal year increased by 30 percent from 1994-95, according to figures released by the development office.
The total marks the first time Stanford has surpassed the $300 million threshold for annual fundraising. It is the third consecutive year the university has drawn a record number of gifts from a record number of donors to set a new standard.
The university's $312.9 million in gifts received surpassed Harvard's $311.5 million raised in 1995-96. Stanford placed second in fundraising among the nation's colleges and universities in 1994-95, with $240.8 million, behind Harvard's $323 million. But it is too soon to tell whether Stanford will top the fundraising list for 1995-96 because the nationwide figures have not yet been released.
Dollar figures don't tell the whole story
The fundraising total is only part of last year's success story, said Stephen Peeps, acting vice president for development.
"What pleases us at least as much, if not more, is that those dollars are driven by enormously large numbers of individual gifts and individual donors," he said.
The total number of gifts received in 1995-96 was up 7 percent to 85,626, and the number of gifts from individuals was up 7 percent to 77,097, according to figures released by the development office.
These figures bode well for the future of the university. "If you are growing a healthy development program, you want to see that the donor base is broadening and that the totals are not simply a question of the same group of loyal people driving the bottom line," Peeps said.
A major reason for the increase in donor participation has been the university's effort to improve undergraduate alumni giving. Although Stanford consistently has ranked among the top university fundraisers in the country in recent decades, it has done so in large part because of a few major donors, Peeps noted.
While large contributions are critical for the university, donors often place restrictions on their gifts to serve their philanthropic ideals. As a result, large gifts tend to be earmarked for specific purposes, such as new buildings, faculty billets, new academic programs or the endowment.
"Large gifts alone cannot meet all the real needs of the university because they tend not to provide the more flexible, current-use dollars that annual gifts provide and that no university can do without," Peeps said.
The Stanford Fund has made significant strides in improving alumni participation
The Stanford Fund, which was established in 1994-95, encourages undergraduate alumni to give back to the university, regardless of the amount they can contribute.
Its two-pronged message is simple: Small donations have an extremely significant role in the overall fundraising picture, and the money donated to the fund will go solely toward supporting undergraduate education.
The message seems to be paying off: This year, undergraduate alumni participation reached 34 percent, up from 24 percent in 1991-92.
"While we clearly have a long way to go here, I think the increase between 1992 and 1996 is a wonderful story," said President Gerhard Casper.
Casper hopes the alumni participation rate will climb to 40 to 45 percent by the end of the decade. That would bring it closer to annual participation rates of undergraduate alumni from Harvard, Princeton and Yale, where half the alumni on average donate money to their alma mater.
"I believe that the kind of progress we have had in the last few years suggests that the sky is the limit," said Chris Ponce, director of the Stanford Fund. "There is no reason that we can't bring our overall alumni participation rate much closer to what our competitors in the east have achieved."
Casper, too, is optimistic the participation rate will continue to rise. "It certainly helps that the donors know that their money will go only toward undergraduate education," he said.
The Stanford Fund raised $5.2 million in 1995-96, exceeding its goal by 24 percent. There was continued success across the board: The senior gift program broke its previous best by achieving 58 percent participation among the Class of '96 and the parents' program also broke new ground by generating $1.1 million in expendable gifts from parents of current undergraduates.
Both the Senior Gift and the parents' programs were boosted substantially through challenge grants provided by trustee Peter Bing and an anonymous donor.
The President's Fund continues to target innovative projects
The President's Fund, established in 1993-94, provides money to a wide-ranging number of innovative projects on campus that might otherwise lack funding.
Like the Stanford Fund, it also had a record-breaking year, drawing in $2.1 million dollars. Donations to the President's Fund come from private supporters, each of whom must give a minimum of $10,000 annually.
The fund now has 145 members, 38 of whom are new members, including a considerable number of parents and younger alumni. Last year marked the first time donors from Asia participated in the fund.
Other record totals
The Business School and the Law School also had their best fundraising years in 1995-96. The Business School topped $20 million for the first time, representing a 50 percent increase over its previous best. The Law School posted an $18 million year, a more than 200 percent improvement over the previous year.
The university also secured major commitments for Stanford Introductory Studies, the Schwab Residential Center, the Center for Clinical Sciences Research, the Humanities Center and the renovation of Encina Hall.
While strong overall progress was made on many fronts, Peeps said, some serious challenges remain.
Additional gifts were received for the Restoration Fund last year, but the university is still $6.6 million short of its $50 million goal for repairs required from the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake.
The Asia-Pacific Scholars Program, designed to bring promising future leaders from Asia to Stanford for two years of graduate-level study, remains $41 million short of its $50 million endowment goal.
And corporate gift totals have flattened since the Centennial Campaign, with this year's total of $29.1 million representing a significant dip from the program's best year of $46.6 million in 1989-90.
Development officers say they hope Jim Gibbons, former dean of the School of Engineering, will turn this around by forging major new partnerships with industry in his new position as counsel to the president for industry relations.
Fundraising priorities for the next few years
The university's first goal must be to improve its self-reliance by decreasing its dependence on government support, Peeps said.
The most immediate step the university is taking to accomplish this is the Stanford Graduate Fellowship Program, which Casper announced in May. The program is scheduled to get under way next fall.
In order to support 100 Ph.D. students for three consecutive years, Peeps estimates the university will need to raise $200 million in new fellowship endowment.
"No other initiative will receive more of our collective attention in the year ahead," he said.
Last May, Casper also announced the establishment of Stanford Introductory Studies, which places emphasis on small seminars for underclassmen.
While the initial funding for this set of programs has been provided, it ultimately will require nearly $75 million of endowment to put it on permanent footing, Peeps said.
Growing the endowment
Beyond these initiatives, Peeps said, the development office will undertake planning efforts to determine the additional growth required in Stanford's general endowment in order to remain competitive with Harvard, Princeton and Yale over the long term.
As of June 30, 1995, when comparative figures were last available, Harvard's endowment was $7.04 billion; Yale's was $3.956 billion; Princeton's was $3.88 billion and Stanford's was $3.089 billion.
Although Yale's and Princeton's endowments are within relative range of Stanford's endowment, Peeps points out that the two Ivy League schools each have a much smaller student body than Stanford.
"Princeton, for example, has an enrollment of only 6,400 students," Peeps said. "It is more of an undergraduate institution than a full-blown research university." Stanford, by comparison, has about 14,000 undergraduate and graduate students.
"What concerns us greatly," Peeps continued, "is that as the years march ahead, we are going to be at ever-fiercer levels of competition to recruit the absolute best faculty, graduate students and undergraduate students. The relative weakness of our endowment is going to become a bigger issue because it translates into fewer endowed dollars per student and per faculty member."
Between the money needed for new initiatives and a very large but yet undefined amount of additional endowment that will be needed for student and faculty support in the future, it is evident that university fundraisers will face considerable challenges in the coming years.
To that end, this year's performance was heartening.
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