Ten months ago, UNC Chapel Hill wrapped up a record $2.38 billion fundraising campaign with a thank you to donors. Now, plans are in motion to start hitting them up again.
The next target: a stunning $4 billion, which would put the university in rare company. Only three universities have taken on campaigns that large, and UNC will be the first public institution to do so. The campaign could start next year, according to a recent memo written by Matt Kupec, UNC's vice chancellor for university advancement.
Across the country, universities are increasingly stressing the importance of private dollars in recruiting top students and faculty. But this time, UNC is taking an unconventional approach: It has set a financial goal before determining how the money would be spent.
“It's a real big number, isn't it?” said Roger Perry, the Chapel Hill developer who is chairman of the UNC Board of Trustees. “It's more market-driven than need-driven. We could get by on less, but we could use more.”
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To hit its mark, the university hopes to move into unprecedented territory. It is stalking private money with an eye toward enriching its $2.2 billion endowment. The UNC endowment has increased of late but is still far behind the nation's top fundraising colleges. Harvard University, for example, has a $34 billion endowment, according to 2007 data.
Private gifts become investments held in a university's endowment, and a small portion of the earnings are used each year. UNC uses 5 percent of the value, so when a donor gives $1million for a professorship, the university can add tens of thousands a year to a professor's salary or use it for research equipment or staff support.
UNC's recent Carolina First campaign raised money for, among other things, 208 professorships and 577 scholarships. It concluded at the end of 2007.
Duke University completed a $2.36 billion campaign in 2003. At N.C. State, the recently completed Achieve Campaign has topped $1 billion, a particularly significant milestone for a land-grant university. On a smaller scale, N.C. Central University in Durham is in the midst of a $50 million drive.
The ambitious goal of $4 billion has eluded all other fundraising campaigns, even at private universities. Stanford University is closest; it is currently shooting to raise $4.3 billion and has already banked $3 billion.
Columbia is targeting $4 billion and has raised $2.47 billion; Cornell is also targeting $4 billion and has raised $1.8 billion.