Leonel de Velez/The Hoya
The Campaign for Georgetown, which launched with a celebration by Healy Hall in fall 2011, must raise $500 million more by 2016.

The Campaign for Georgetown hit the $1 billion milestone on the way to its $1.5 billion end goal, Vice President for Advancement R. Bartley Moore (SFS ’87) announced Wednesday morning.

“One billion is a very, very important psychological threshold,” Moore said. “That we’ve now crossed that threshold means a lot more than that we are just two-thirds of the way toward our total goal.”

Moore explained that this accomplishment puts Georgetown “in the league of institutions that can do very significant levels of fundraising at the level of $1 billion-plus campaigns.”

Lina Jamis (COL ’12), whose donation broke the $1 billion mark, gave $214.68 to the annual fund in 12 monthly increments of $17.89 after being called by a student working at Phonathon. Because of 24- to 48-hour lags in the accounting process, neither the Office of Advancement nor Jamis knew that her donation would break the threshold.

“At first I was surprised because I usually don’t donate a lot — I just donate $17.89 here and there — it’s a significant number for me,” Jamis said. “I can’t donate much more than that because I’m not one of those alumni who can donate half a million dollars, unfortunately … I’m still paying off my student loans, but I give small donations when I can.”

Since fundraising began in July 2006, 86,162 donors have contributed, although the capital campaign did not officially launch until fall 2011.

The last six years have been the most productive fundraising years in university history, Moore said.

“We’ve raised more money faster than we’ve ever done before,” Moore said. “[These years] overlapped with a very significant economic downturn and the ensuing recession and uncertainty about people’s own individual financial futures and the future performance of the economy. I think that says something gratifying to all of us in the university community about the level of commitment and support and belief in the university of its alumni, parents, friends and other donors.”

Moore attributed the campaign’s success to a change in strategy from previous efforts. In the past, the university focused on general fundraising in support of ongoing work. The current capital campaign, however, has focused on specific initiatives such as the 1789 Scholarship Imperative, which aims to fund a minimum of 1,789 scholarships of $25,000 directly from donations as opposed to through the university’s operating budget, and academic improvements within Georgetown.

“We’re seeing that donors on every level, comparatively smaller and bigger gifts, are reacting very positively to the idea that our fundraising is now directly associated with a specific growth plan for the university,” Moore said.

Prior to the Campaign for Georgetown’s launch, the university offered fewer than 500 directly donor-funded scholarships each year. This figure has increased to 1,000 potential scholarships for the upcoming academic year.

Additionally, alumni participation rates have steadily increased. About 25 percent of undergraduate alumni traditionally give to the university, but last year, that rate exceeded 30 percent for the first time in seven years. Moore said that this year, the Office of Advancement is expecting participation of approximately 32 percent, and the university’s ultimate goal is to reach 40 percent by 2020.

Moore stressed the importance of participation regardless of donation size.

“[Small gifts] are every bit as important to us as the smaller number of ultimately much bigger gifts,” Moore said. “That’s why in the campaign we talk about not only how many total dollars we raise but also the number of people who are making commitments. A successful campaign and successful fundraising depends on everybody doing their part as best they can do, whether it’s a big gift or small gift — what matters is that we receive the support of our alumni and our community.”

Jamis agreed, citing the impact of her own small donation.

“My donation breaking the threshold just shows that any student, whether current or an alumni, can donate, and it doesn’t matter how much they can donate,” Jamis said. “As little or much as they like, they can still make a huge difference.”

Nonetheless, with $500 million left to fundraise, Moore said that the capital campaign is at a point where a handful of large gifts could have a significant effect.

“We are confident that we can get the job done within the 10 years that we’ve allowed ourselves,” Moore said. “We’re going to work really hard to finish ahead of schedule if we can.”

While Moore acknowledged that the university would continue looking at new approaches and messages, he said there would be no strategy changes in the near future.

Although the capital campaign’s official end date is still three years away in June 2016, it has already had an impact on the university’s main, medical and law campuses.

The university launched the Georgetown Environment Initiative with $20 million in November 2012 to promote interdisciplinary study about the environment. In addition, the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs and the Doyle Program on Engaging Difference received an additional $15 million in funding, according to Berkley Center Director Thomas Banchoff.

“[The funding] has allowed us strengthen our teaching and outreach activities, including a broadening of our successful Junior Year Abroad Program and a new series of Doyle Seminars, small upper-level classes that address social, religious, cultural and other forms of diversity,” Banchoff wrote in an email.

He added that with support from the capital campaign, the Berkley Center would continue expanding course offerings, supporting research in new areas and deepening inter-departmental collaboration.

The capital campaign has had a profound impact on Georgetown’s other campuses as well.

The Georgetown University Medical Center launched the Center for Brain Plasticity, which aims to develop new approaches to restoring brain function after neurological damage, and the Initiative to Reduce Health Disparities, which addresses the inequity in healthcare quality among underserved communities in the D.C. area.

Moreover, the Georgetown University Law Center established the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law and the Georgetown Climate Center, think tank programs aimed at shaping public policy. According to Law Center Dean William Treanor, the Law Center has received more than $100 million from the Campaign for Georgetown.

“[Law students] are learning about how to balance competing concerns and how to protect the reasoning behind their public policy suggestions,” Treanor said. “We wouldn’t have been able to do it without the funding the campaign brought us.”

Treanor emphasized the importance of student involvement in the campaign. The Law Center has a thank you note program, in which more than 150 students thanked donors for support. Participants included students who had not received scholarships from the capital campaign.

As the first campaign that Georgetown has ever run with modern digital capabilities, Moore said that social media and other technology have been pivotal to the campaign’s success.

“It’s easier for us to get the message out now than it was ever before. I think awareness of the campaign is probably a lot higher,” Moore said.

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *