$3 billion campaign fails to meet targets

Officials hope to raise sufficient funds while seeing drop in giving

The University's capital campaign, an effort to raise $3 billion by Dec. 31, 2011, is entering its final stretch.

The campaign is currently behind schedule despite having secured more than $2.2 billion since its inception at the start of 2004. Administrators initially estimated that the campaign would have amassed $2.6 billion by this time, which places the campaign about 10 percent - $300 million - behind schedule, said Robert Sweeney, senior vice president for development and public affairs.

"We've raised about 75 percent of the goal, and about 85 percent of the time has elapsed," Campaign Chairman Gordon Rainey said.

To reach the $3 billion goal in time, the campaign must secure a significant number of large gifts - including multiple $100 million donations - while simultaneously reaching out to gain donations of all amounts from massive numbers of young alumni and students, Sweeney explained.

"A lot of people all over this country are working very hard on this campaign," Rainey said, citing efforts by the National Committee on University Resources, a volunteer group of more than 400 alumni.

The University uses these funds for fellowships, professorships, global programs, undergraduate and graduate research, new buildings, institutions and more. The intent of the campaign has been two-fold - to address the physical and human capital needs of the University.

The University's campaign, like others, has had to grapple with state funding cuts during the economic downturn. In her Gifts and Grants report at a recent Board of Visitors meeting, President Teresa A. Sullivan reported a decline in giving.

"Philanthropic giving to the University of Virginia and its related foundations is $52,446,157.41 for the fiscal year through Oct. 31, 2010. This is a decrease of $810,778.29, or 1.52 percent below the results of the previous fiscal year," Sullivan said.

Since her arrival at the University, Sullivan has helped shape the campaign using an approach dubbed the "Heart of the Grounds," which emphasizes the value of philanthropy for faculty members and students while highlighting construction needs of the historical iconography. Projects such as the Rotunda campaign, the South Lawn project and the construction of Bavaro Hall exemplify what can be accomplished through private donations, Rainey said.

"The second half of the campaign is more devoted to not so much the buildings but what goes on inside the buildings ... which is, we think, the most important thing that we can accomplish," Rainey said.

To encourage further donations, Sweeney said the campaign will need to emphasize that the funds will go toward cutting-edge programs such as the U.Va. Bay Game simulation and the Center for Innovation. Medical work and research, such as the completion of the Emily Couric Clinical Cancer Center and the new children's hospital, also has the potential to draw in a significant number of gifts.

With just one year remaining, officials hope to make up for the lag in funds quickly and efficiently.

"When you're playing catch-up, everything has to go right," Sweeney said, explaining that fundraising is involves contacting, engaging, involving, motivating and finally soliciting donors. "We've done the research; we know prospects that have potential for us."

Sweeney characterized this final push as a call to arms to University alumni, asking them to step forward, and remains confident the team will achieve the monetary goal on schedule.

"I'm betting my career on it. We are not looking at failure. Failure might be forgiving, but not doing everything in our power to raise this money in the allotted time for this university is unforgivable," he said.

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