BrownTogether campaign eclipses midpoint fundraising goal

$1.64 billion raised, campaign end date now set for 2022

By
News Editor
Friday, January 5, 2018

The University’s BrownTogether fundraising campaign surpassed its halfway point with $1.64 billion raised before the end of 2017, wrote President Christina Paxson P’19 in a University-wide email yesterday.

The campaign is now projected to end by 2022, but that time frame is “a conservative estimate,” Paxson told The Herald. Since its public launch in 2015 with a seed fund of just under $950 million, BrownTogether has raised about $300 million per year, she added.

The money raised by the BrownTogether campaign is earmarked for four different categories: the Annual Fund, Investing in People, Education and Research and Campus and Community.

Of the money raised, the Annual Fund has received $193 million out of its $400 million goal. This bucket plays an especially important role in University finances because the money donated to the Annual Fund can be spent within the year of its donation, said John Atwater ‘83 P‘17, a corporation member.

“It’s particularly vital at Brown, because Brown is … underendowed compared to its cohort set of schools,” he said. “If you have 10 million dollars of Annual Fund dollars, … that is like having the income from 200 million dollars of endowment,” given that the yearly draw from the endowment is a little under 5 percent.

The Annual Fund plays a key role in fundraising for BrownPromise, an initiative that will make undergraduate student aid packages loan-free beginning in the 2018-19 academic year, Atwater said. 

“Ultimately, President Paxson has asked us to drive the Annual Fund to a permanently higher place,” he said, adding that the campaign is “bending the arc of philanthropy of Brown generally and permanently.”

The other three fundraising buckets have also met about half of their total goals, Paxson wrote. The campaign has raised $400 million toward the Investing in People category’s $1.1 billion target, $609 million toward the Education and Research bucket’s $900 million target and $323 million toward the Campus and Community designation’s $600 million fundraising goal. An additional $116 million in recent donations have yet to be designated for a specific category.

Of all four buckets, Investing in People has made the least progress towards its goal, with 36 percent of the $1.1 billion raised. In response, the University plans to emphasize this category in the next years of the campaign, Paxson said.

In the Investing in People category, BrownPromise and endowed faculty chairs have been central campaign points, Paxson said. The funds for 51 faculty chairs have been raised and 23 of those new positions have been filled. The remaining 28 should be filled “in the next five to seven years, and that’s a conservative estimate,” Paxson said.

The Campus and Community and Education and Research Buckets have played significant roles in the recently completed Engineering Research Center, the Jonathan M. Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship established in 2016, and the ongoing expansion of the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, among other projects.

Funding for the new Nelson Center is divided between endowment funding and current use funding, said Daniel Warshay ’87 P‘20, executive director of the center and adjunct lecturer in engineering. The current use funding “enabled us in our early launch days to get off the ground, get into orbit,” he said.

While the center is currently housed in temporary space in the Brown/RISD Hillel building, the University recently announced that the center will lease space in a new facility to be built at 249 Thayer Street.

The expansion of the Watson Institute should be completed on time and on budget, Paxson said.

Other significant projects launched from successful fundraising include the renovation of Wilson Hall and the creation of a new program in collaborative humanities, according to a University press release.

Looking ahead, advancement and alumni officials hope to maintain and build on BrownTogether’s fundraising momentum by revamping “the volunteer leadership structure of the campaign … and engag(ing) more people as volunteers in helping us get the word out,” Paxson said.

If BrownTogether continues to fundraise at a rate of approximately $300 million dollars per year, the campaign should reach completion five years from now, but “we can do better than that,” Paxson told The Herald. “If we hit the end date before then, we’ll either stop the campaign and celebrate or extend it,” she said.

The Division of Advancement also plans to improve and expand the technology and databases used to connect with donors, Atwater said.

The University has addresses for about 90,000 alums, in addition to parents, friends and foundations, Paxson said.

About 20 percent of that body donates today, Atwater said. He hopes to both increase the number of contributions and the average size of each contribution.