Syracuse University Campaign Rakes in $110 Million in First Year
Jan. 31, 2009, The Post-Standard — Despite a struggling economy, Syracuse University raised $110 million in the first year of the public portion of its five-year $1 billion fundraising campaign.
That brought the total SU effort to about $620 million as of Dec. 31, the most recent reporting date, said Brian Sischo, SU's associate vice president for development.
"We're feeling good about where things are at this point in the campaign," he said.
SU appears to be on track to raise $1 billion, said Naomi Levine, director of New York University's George H. Heyman Jr. Center for Philanthropy and Fundraising.
The university publicly launched its campaign in November 2007. It had already raised $509.3 million by then. University officials have set a goal of raising $1 billion by the end of June 2012.
Most organizations wait until they have raised 45 to 50 percent of their goal before announcing a campaign.
"It's not unusual," Levine said. "You don't want to look foolish."
With companies laying people off, the credit crisis and the chaos on Wall Street, some fundraising professionals are worried raising money will become more difficult in the future, Levine said.
"All of these things are bound to affect our fundraising in the next year," Levine said. "Everyone is very concerned about what the next year or two will bring."
SU is one of 33 colleges and universities that have $1 billion fundraising campaigns under way that are being monitored by The Chronicle of Higher Education, a higher education publication.
The amounts raised monthly at some institutions are staggering.
From Oct. 31 through Nov. 30, Johns Hopkins University reported raising $67 million; Cornell University reported raising $21.7 million; and Columbia University raised $40 million, according to The Chronicle.
SU raised $17 million in that same time frame.
The university recently launched two campaigns under the umbrella of its overall campaign.
The Faculty Today fundraising campaign was launched Oct. 13 with a goal of using $30 million from the university's endowment to match donations toward establishing endowed faculty chairs and professorships.
So far, it has raised more than $3 million to establish three chairs and a fourth will be announced soon, Sischo said.
Last month, SU launched the Syracuse Responds Initiative, which has a goal of raising $2 million by today for student financial aid.
"We have a final push that is on this week to reach out and try to fulfill as much as we can," Sischo said.
That campaign was at $830,000 as of Monday and helped more than 350 students who asked the university for more financial aid so they could continue their studies at SU, Sischo said.
Levine said launching campaigns within a campaign can help boost the overall campaign because it creates new publicity about fundraising.
Universities are constantly raising money and the high price tags attached to private institutions make it necessary for them to raise money for student financial aid so their institution is affordable, she said.
Especially at a time when their endowments, which typically provide money for student financial aid, are taking hits because of the souring economy.
College and university endowments reported an average rate of return of negative 3 percent for the fiscal year ending June 30, according to a survey by the National Association of College and University Business Officers.
The results of a follow-up survey show that endowments' investment returns fell an additional 23 percent from July to November, the first five months of fiscal year 2009.
Between June 30 and the end of December, the SU endowment dropped from $946 million to $686 million, a 26 percent decrease, SU officials said.
The current estimated annual cost of attending SU — including tuition, housing, meals, fees and books — is $47,820. The university provides about $155 million in annual financial aid to about 69 percent of the student body, with an average financial aid award of $16,737, according to SU.
Nancy Cole can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 470-2173.