A great year, a great gift and more to come

by Shelby Radcliffe,

Update from the vice president for advancement.

Earlier this summer, we provided a brief update to the campus on our terrific FY17 fund raising year, totaling $17.8M. And just last week, we had the pleasure of announcing an extraordinary new gift commitment from Trustee Jim Albaugh ’72. These positive outcomes in advancement are not possible without everyone on campus, especially our faculty and staff colleagues who make the Willamette experience so extraordinary for our students and alumni. From the dining, facilities, technology and campus safety partners who helped us host over 600 alumni and friends on campus for Alumni Weekend earlier this month, to the faculty who welcome alumni in their classrooms during the weekend and all year round, to the students whose stories inspire volunteers and donors, we couldn’t do it without you.

In the midst of all of this exciting activity, I wanted to share this advancement program update with the campus. My hope is that this update will help you better understand our work, and later this semester I will host an advancement information session for those who wish to learn more. You’re all part of the team that makes our work possible. Thank you.

We’re launching a campaign

In May 2015, the Willamette University Board of Trustees voted to begin planning for a university-wide fundraising campaign built upon the university’s strategic plan. The board was unanimous in declaring a vision for Willamette to completely fund its commitment to meet the full financial need for all undergraduate students by its 200th anniversary in 2042. Multiple campaigns between 2015 and 2042 were envisioned to accomplish this goal.

My arrival in spring 2016 put campaign planning into high gear and challenged the board members to show their own commitment to this effort through their increased philanthropic support of the university. In May 2017, two years after the initial vote, the Board of Trustees again voted on a comprehensive campaign — this time with a more detailed campaign plan and $15 million pledged in early major gift commitments from 23 individuals, including from many trustees and President Thorsett. This philanthropic leadership sets the stage for the efforts in the years ahead, communicating clearly the commitment of the institution’s leadership to the monetary and philosophical goals of the campaign.

From here forward we have a working campaign goal of $150 million.

This phase of the campaign (which officially began on June 1 this year) is considered “quiet” or “private.” While it won’t feel quiet to those of us on campus, we won’t publicize the campaign or discuss it with more than a few hundred of our insiders (volunteers and leadership donors) for the next several years. During this phase of the campaign our efforts are focused on building our engagement program, increasing annual fund support, solidifying and expanding the campaign case for support to include the entire university, getting our staff and communication resources ready, and speaking with those who have close ties to us about quiet phase campaign pledges and volunteer leadership positions. After reaching 50-60 percent of the goal (or more), we will launch the campaign publicly in approximately 2021. Barring massive economic challenges (think 2008), we anticipate celebrating the success of this campaign in 2024.

Improving access, equity and the student experience

As a comprehensive campaign, all gifts that we secure in this time frame — June 1, 2017, through May 31, 2024 — will count toward our $150M goal, including gifts to the annual fund. Our ambition is to more than double the annual fund by the end of the campaign, which will help to support students and faculty immediately. Every dollar to the annual fund is equivalent to almost $20 in endowment, so this $1.5M increase will have the same impact on campus as adding $30M to our endowment. Our annual fund success in FY16 and FY17 demonstrated the proof in principle for our approach by setting two new records — $1.42M and $1.54M, respectively — and we anticipate hitting the $3M mark in 2021.

A comprehensive campaign also includes deferred gifts, including annuities, trusts and bequests. We currently have 571 Booth Society members — individuals who have made their deferred gift plans known to us — and we anticipate increasing Booth Society membership significantly during the campaign years. These deferred campaign commitments will create a pipeline of endowment investment far into the future that will help Willamette make substantial progress toward the goals of intergenerational equity and financial sustainability.

Finally, a comprehensive campaign includes outright major gift pledges of $100,000 or more for special purposes on campus. In recognition of the university’s commitment to equity and access, we will focus our donors on the things that matter most to our students: financial aid and funding for the high-impact opportunities that make the Willamette experience unique. While increased merit and need-based scholarship assistance helps us build a stronger Willamette University community in all three colleges, we also want all of our students to have access to the programs that build upon their excellent classroom experiences. Whether it is undergraduate research or study abroad for our CLA students, the Angel Investment Fund and O’Neill Investment Fund at AGSM, clinic courses or the emerging Business Lawyering Institute for our law students, or internship support for all of our students, this campaign will endeavor to dramatically increase gifts to current use and endowment for these types of important programs.

Culture of engagement

The success of our campaign will be built upon a strong engagement program – one that connects alumni, parents, students and other university friends to Willamette in meaningful ways. We are developing tools to understand and measure how effectively we are connecting members of the Willamette network to each other and to the university through volunteer service, engagement and communication. We need to substantially broaden the ways that we engage with our alumni — and other communities in the Willamette family — in support of our current students and alumni. Historically our commitment to engagement work has varied and often been underresourced. This campaign will begin an era of sustained commitment to these important relationships that allow a long-term culture of support and philanthropy to develop and thrive. By this time next year, I’ll have more data to share on how we will measure and report on engagement goals and outcomes.

So where are we now?

As of today, we have raised $25,098,032 which is nearly 16.73 percent toward our $150M goal. We will continue to provide updates on campaign progress to the campus on a regular basis over the next seven years. 

I want to acknowledge that the on-campus community is working within a challenging budget climate, and I continue to be appreciative of the willingness to work together to achieve the best we can for Willamette.

This is a special institution, and I’m grateful to be working with you for Willamette’s future. If you have questions about advancement or the campaign, please come to the advancement information sessions or consider inviting me or my leadership team to your department or team meetings.

With thanks,

Shelby Radcliffe

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