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Details of the Fundraising Disaster

The administration has sent out its commentary on alumni giving, and though the report is strong on chest-thumping, it omits two critical pieces of information:

  • No figure is given regarding the percentage of alumni who gave money to the College in fiscal 2017 (ending June 30, 2017) — sources tell me it’s down to 39%. [Erratum: the figure of 39.5% is listed in the Scholarship Support and Student Life section of the press release]

The previous year’s participation figure was 42%, and the year before that the number was 43%. That’s a 10% drop in the number of generous alumni over two years, down to an unprecedented low.

With the fallout from events in the past few months alone — Phil’s attempted appointment of a non-Ph.D-bearing Dean of the Faculty who favored boycotting all Israeli universities; the bait-and-switch permanent derecognition of several fraternities much loved by generations of brothers; and now the golf course fiasco — well, your guess is as good as mine where participation will go in the current year (fiscal 2018 ends on June 30, 2018). Another new all-time low is all but guaranteed.

  • The total fiscal 2017 giving figure of $285.6 million, while impressive, is far short of the administration’s fundraising goal of approximately $350 million. Total giving is also well down from 2016 and 2015. It’s even below the 2014 figure.

Note that fiscal 2017 giving included the exceptional $80 million pledged gift from the Irving family. Absent this large gift, the results would be much worse:

Alumni Giving 2017A.jpg

And take note of the “five-year average” metric in the press release. What a transparent attempt to hide away last year’s figure compared to the results of individual previous years. Does someone somewhere think that we are somehow going to be fooled?

Giving in 2016 was $318.8 million, 11.4% above the 2017 figure:

Alumni Giving 2016.jpg

In 2015, total giving amounted to $310 million:

Alumni Giving 2015.jpg

And in 2014, giving was $287.2 million, a figure that is above this past year’s number, too:

Alumni Giving 2014.jpg

As I have mentioned, the current gift-giving environment is as strong as it could possibly be: the stock market is at an all-time high; corporate profits are exceptional; and venture capital gains from Silicon Valley’s unicorns have made for new billionaires galore. And yet, at $285.6 million in 2017 — after four years of the quiet phase of the capital campaign and with heavily reinforced staffing in the development office (214 staffers in the fall of 2016, up from 190 when Phil arrived in 2013), it’s clear that donations are moving strongly in the wrong direction.

After this year’s scandals, will giving even hit $250 million in fiscal 2018?

(Whatever the figure turns out to be, the Office of Communications will undoubtedly be calling it “a new record.”)

As we enter the fifth year of the Hanlon administration, I wonder if Phil will ever announce the start of the capital campaign. It’s been a long time in the offing.

Addendum: An alumnus writes in:

Interesting side note on your analysis of the College giving report. Remember that there were those on the hardcore environmental side of the argument who were very critical of what appeared to be a capitulation by the Administration to accept that money from Irving because it was coming from a carbon-based-fuel company. Some critics would even have refused the gift outright. The College must really be desperate. Without that Irving gift the numbers would be worse than atrocious.

Remember all those divestiture protests? What was the College response to them? There is a lesson in all of this.

Addendum: Here is the release sent to alumni fundraisers and Alumni Councillors:

Philanthropy Advances Dartmouth’s Academic Programs and Leadership in Innovative Fundraising

Alumni invest in scholarship and teaching, student experiences, and crucial financial aid programs

Alumni, parents, and friends offered powerful support to programs across Dartmouth in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2017, making new gifts and commitments of $285.6 millionone of the highest totals in the school’s history.

Overall, commitments in fiscal 2017 exceeded Dartmouth’s five-year average by nearly $60 million. Among the philanthropic highlights of the past year:

· an $80 million gift—the second largest ever to Dartmouth—to establish an interdisciplinary institute to study the intersection of energy and society;
· a significant expansion of support for study abroad programs;
· innovative new giving programs for women and entrepreneurs;
· grants in support of the house communities and their programming; and
· endowed professorships and coaching positions that recognize excellence in teaching and mentoring.

Alumni further demonstrated their support through strong engagement with Dartmouth programs across the country and in Hanover, including record-setting attendance at reunions in June.<

“The remarkable generosity and involvement of our alumni, parents, and friends creates great momentum for Dartmouth’s distinctive educational model,” says President Phil Hanlon ‘77. “On behalf of the trustees, faculty, students, and staff at Dartmouth, I want to thank everyone who contributed in the past year. Your investment in Dartmouth’s future affirms our liberal arts tradition, our focus on world-class scholars who love to teach, and our ambition to lead in key areas of scholarship for the betterment of humankind.”

Charitable support for Dartmouth has surged since President Hanlon took office in the summer of 2013, allowing key investments in people and programs across the institution. Commitments exceeded $1.17 billion during his first four years as president—compared to $516 million over the four years prior to his arrival—with donors establishing overall giving records in three of those years. Related to that success, Dartmouth was recently named the top college in the country on the Forbes 2017 Grateful Grads Index of alumni support.

Each of the three professional schools at Dartmouth recorded significant philanthropic achievements during the past year. The Tuck School of Business raised a record $31.1 million overall, indicating strong enthusiasm for the school’s transformative values.

Total giving to the Geisel School of Medicine was $15.4 million in fiscal 2017, with alumni participation and unrestricted giving both up from the previous year.

The Thayer School of Engineering, with $10.4 million in total support, had a record-breaking number of leadership donors to its annual fund, which raised $1.5 million. To date, nearly 300 alumni and friends have joined the school’s 150th Anniversary Giving Circle.

Highlights of the past fiscal year included:

Dartmouth announced the creation of the Arthur L. Irving Institute for Energy and Society to advance humankind’s understanding of how energy resources power modern life and directly affect a society’s standard of living. A lead gift of $80 million was made to launch the institute by Irving Oil, the Arthur L. Irving Family Foundation, and Arthur L. Irving, his wife, Sandra Irving, and their daughter, Sarah Irving ‘10, Tuck ‘14. Alumni and friends contributed another $33 million by the end of fiscal 2017 toward the total institute goal of $160 million.

“The institute represents everything that is great about Dartmouth: the ability to bring students and faculty together to find solutions, drive innovation, tread new paths—to always think big, create the leaders of tomorrow, and inspire the world,” said Sarah Irving at the announcement ceremony last September. This summer, Dartmouth announced the appointment of Elizabeth Wilson, a leading scholar of energy, technology, law, and business at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs, to serve as the institute’s first director.

With his second $10 million gift in less than five years, former Congressman Frank J. Guarini ‘46 doubled his commitment to advance international understanding through foreign study. The Frank J. Guarini Institute for International Education, which encompasses Dartmouth’s Off-Campus Programs office, provides opportunities for students to study in countries around the world and expand their expertise in language, diplomacy, and global issues.

“There is no better way to promote peace in our world than for young people to immerse themselves in different cultures, getting to know new people and expanding their worldview firsthand,” said Congressman Guarini.

Donors in fiscal 2017 established seven new endowed professorships. These endowed funds will permanently support scholar-teachers at the height of their academic careers, providing them with resources to pursue innovative research and curricular design.

The physical contours of the expanded and reimagined Hood Museum of Art took shape during the past year. Through the end of June, Dartmouth had received $40.6 million toward the $50 million goal for the project. When the Hood reopens in 2019, it will be an even more dynamic teaching museum—50 percent larger, featuring five new galleries, three times more object-study space for students, and a striking new entrance that also will serve as a vibrant social hub for the community.

The new Moosilauke Ravine Lodge is on track to open in October 2017. Fueled by the matching gift challenge made by George “Skip” Battle ‘66 and his children, Daniel ‘01 and Emily ‘05, alumni and friends had given $10.7 million toward the construction project through the end of fiscal 2017.

Building on its national leadership in fundraising innovation, Dartmouth alumni developed new programs to foster support in ways that recognized differences in wealth creation and philanthropic decision-making.

Established by a small group of alumnae three years ago, the Centennial Circle of Dartmouth Alumnae is setting a national standard for women-led philanthropy in higher education. Circle members announced in April an ambitious goal to fund 250 annual scholarships by 2019, Dartmouth’s 250th anniversary.

The newly established Dartmouth Founders Project is melding entrepreneurism and philanthropy, with the College assisting alumni in their efforts to establish new ventures, and these entrepreneurs pledging to support the College as their businesses grow. Dartmouth’s annual E-Forum in San Francisco brought together more than 400 West Coast alumni in all stages of business creation on September 7, 2016.

Forty-five percent of all undergraduates received financial aid from Dartmouth during the past year, with nearly half of all scholarship support coming from donors to the Dartmouth College Fund. The Fund received a total of $43.8 million in gifts during the past year, with more than 85 percent of that total directed to financial aid. The average financial award for a first-year Dartmouth student in fiscal 2017 was $47,833. The number of alumni making a gift to the fund, 39.5 percent, was slightly down from the previous year but still second among Ivy League schools.

Two classes set Dartmouth reunion giving records in fiscal 2017. The Class of 1978 set a new mark for a class celebrating its 40th reunion, with a gift of $6.19 million, and the Class of 2012 established a new standard for fifth-year reunion giving, with a total of $96,673. In addition, the Class of 2012 set a new class gift participation record for a fifth-year reunion (55.3 percent), and the Class of 2007 set a 10th-year gift participation record (41.7 percent). Overall, alumni established an all-time reunion record for total attendance in June, with more than 4,700 participants.

Barbara and Ed Haldeman ‘70, longtime leaders in the Dartmouth community, and their three children endowed the athletic director’s position. The $5 million gift to create the Haldeman Family Director of Athletics and Recreation has expanded the director’s ability to invest in programs and innovations that boost Dartmouth’s competitive advantage and enhance the student-athlete experience. During the past three years, Dartmouth has received gifts totaling more than $24 million to endow a dozen positions in the Department of Athletics and Recreation.

Dartmouth’s six house communities marked their first year of operation, with philanthropy supporting events, activities, and other programming. The house communities are creating a greater sense of continuity for students and providing them with additional ways to connect with a range of students who have different experiences and interests.

“The lifelong bond between Dartmouth and its alumni is deep and powerful,” says Catherine Craighead Briggs ‘88, chair of the Dartmouth College Fund Committee and one of the founders of the Centennial Circle. “Alumni appreciate how Dartmouth shaped our character and put us on the path for success in life. Each of us knows we were fortunate to attend the nation’s premier liberal arts college, and we’re committed to raising the College to even greater heights. You see it in the tremendous increase in giving during the past four years and in the reunion attendance numbers.”


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