Break out the campaign
Universities are always raising funds. What’s special about this particular initiative?
A campaign is about creating a culture of engagement, rather than just hitting a fundraising goal. It’s about celebrating our successes and examining how we’re making a difference in the community. It’s a time to project ahead and ask challenging questions: When we meet this ambitious goal, what will we have achieved collectively? How will our community be different? A campaign is a university’s opportunity to highlight a bold path ahead and to describe the way that philanthropy can help us achieve that mission.
How did UCalgary decide on the campaign goal?
The university conducted a thorough assessment of our current needs and future priorities and projects. Complemented by an extensive examination of our community’s philanthropic interests, this assessment led to the adoption of a $1.3-billion goal for this campaign — the third largest fundraising goal in the history of Canadian universities.
What are the funds for?
The mission of this campaign is to make UCalgary the most entrepreneurial university in the country’s most enterprising city. We have aligned our priorities to support the three pillars of the university’s Eyes High vision: unleashing student experiences, energizing research outcomes and strengthening community connections. Institutionally, and within the faculties and units across campus, we have identified priorities and projects that, through philanthropic support, will help the university achieve this mission.
Making it count
Can a campaign gift be made to any area of the university?
Yes. Any gift to any area of the university is counted in the campaign. While we have articulated a series of priorities that build upon our strengths and aspirations as an institution, donors are free to make their own decisions about which areas they wish to support. Just as there are a multitude of reasons why people give, there are numerous areas in which philanthropy can have an impact.
How can alumni and friends ensure their gifts are personally meaningful and impactful?
As fundraisers, our responsibility is to identify the strategic opportunities that will most benefit from philanthropic support, and help match each with a donor seeking to make a difference in that area. There are countless ways that our community has philanthropically supported medical research and advancements that have directly benefited the community at large, but I believe it’s through a personal connection that a donor most often finds an area of engagement that resonates with them. Some donors are passionate about supporting student scholarships — currently, more than 3,400 students receive donor-funded support each year. Others make gifts in honour of a professor who played an important role in their lives, or in memory of a classmate.
Sum it up
How much has already been raised?
Campaigns are typically divided into two phases: the quiet phase, when fundraising priorities, goals and strategy are confirmed; and the public phase, when the campaign is actively promoted and fundraisers work strategically with donors and faculty leaders to advance campaign objectives. The university entered the silent phase of the campaign on April 1, 2011 and, on April 29, 2016, in conjunction with our 50th anniversary, we publicly announced the campaign. Already, more than 20,000 donors have contributed more than $729 million towards the $1.3-billion goal. More than 50 per cent are alumni.
How will the current economic situation impact campaign goals?
Certainly, it’s more challenging to raise funds during a time of economic uncertainty. We are using this time to strengthen our ties with our community and supporters who continue to champion the great work of the university and celebrate our ambitious and bold vision. We believe that philanthropy is built upon solid relationships — and as with any relationship, you’re there when times are good as well as when times are challenging. Our aspiration to be the most entrepreneurial university in the country’s most enterprising city remains unchanged; we know that when the economy strengthens, our community’s philanthropic commitment to the university will rebound, because we have strong relationships, bold ambitions and innovative programs and opportunities.
We truly couldn’t do it without you
Do funds raised make up for a lack in government funding?
No highly distinguished university has ever been self-funded through tuition or government support alone. Philanthropy has always helped advance the goals of the university by providing some of the resources required to invest in new and evolving disciplines and research opportunities, as well as to attract and retain the best students and faculty. We want the University of Calgary to be a great university, and great universities are built on great philanthropy.