Donors give $153 million to Dartmouth in 2010

By Madeline Sims

Dartmouth received approximately $153 million in donations in fiscal year 2010, representing an 11 percent increase of philanthropic contributions from 2009, according to Senior Vice President for Advancement Carolyn Pelzel. The increase in donations, combined with revised business practices and workforce reductions, helped the College close its $100 million budget deficit for fiscal years 2011 and 2012, according to a Tuesday College press release.

While this year’s annual giving was below the record-setting $168 million received in donations in 2008, the level of donations is “reassuring” given the current economic climate, Pelzel said. She added that the 11 percent increase was a “pleasant surprise.”

Donors gave approximately $43.2 million in “annual giving” to the Dartmouth College Fund, a 13-percent increase from contributions in fiscal year 2009, according to the release. Of the fund’s donation total, $33.2 million is available for the College’s operating budget for this year, and another $10 million will be paid throughout the 2011 fiscal year, Pelzel said.

Donations to the Dartmouth College Fund support faculty, athletics, student programs, financial aid and facilities that promote research opportunities and “an ideal learning and living environment,” the release said.

Additionally, contributors donated approximately “just over” $6 million to the operating budgets of the College’s three professional schools — Dartmouth Medical School, Thayer School of Engineering and Tuck School of Business — Pelzel said.

Beyond the allotment to this year’s operating budget, approximately $113.15 million goes towards the endowment, capital improvements and programming initiatives, according to Pelzel.

“The gifts enabled the undergraduate college, arts and sciences graduate programs, and the professional schools of business, engineering, and medicine to advance leading-edge teaching and scholarship, enhance student life, and sustain Dartmouth’s place at the forefront of U.S. higher education,” the release said.

The teaching and scholarship funded by the donations includes new endowed professorships and the formation of “innovation funds” designed to promote original research.

Donations to the three professional schools also showed improvement this year. Representing a 37-percent increase from the previous year’s donation total, DMS raised a record $592,220 in 2010. Thayer School raised $861,429, a 12-percent increase, and Tuck brought in $5.2 million, up 8 percent from total donations in 2009.

The largest donation this year was a $35 million contribution from an anonymous donor to create the country’s first Center for Health Care Delivery Science, which will focus on health-care education and research, according to the release. Only $1 million of the total donation is included in fiscal year 2010’s donation total, Pelzel said, adding that the other $34 million will be paid over the next three years.

The overall increase in philanthropic giving in fiscal year 2010 was likely due to improvements in the national economy and the College’s targeted fundraising efforts, Pelzel said.

“It was clearly an indication of the economy rebounding and renewed confidence and optimism within our donor community,” she said. “Without a doubt, though, there was also a very strong effort on the part of our volunteers and staff to let alumni and parents know how important their contributions are in maintaining the student experience.”

Pelzel added she believed donors recognized the importance of their contributions given the College’s strategic budget reduction efforts.

“We’ve been in this process of trying to reduce the gap by $100 million,” she said. “That message was delivered far and wide and I think alumni and parents recognized they didn’t want the quality of the day-to-day experience of the students to be diminished, and they came forward very generously.”

Pelzel said that the College’s transparency throughout the budget reduction process was “extremely important” in maintaining donor confidence.

“The transparency throughout the [College’s budget cut] process was important in reassuring [donors] that we’ve been making the same tough decisions they’ve had to make and that we’ve been doing so in a strategic, well-thought-out manner,” she said.

Pelzel said she believes the increase is also evidence that the donor community is confident in College President Jim Yong Kim’s leadership abilities.

“I think there is significant enthusiasm for [Kim] and his vision for Dartmouth,” she said. “The fact that alumni participation was up over last year, and even up over two years ago, is an indication that people are excited about what’s going on here.”

Kim said in the release that he is grateful for the Dartmouth community’s financial support over the past year.

“In my conversations with alumni and parents, they were heartened by our efforts to reduce our administrative expenses, and inspired by our determination to apply Dartmouth’s strengths in strategic ways,” he said. “All of us at Dartmouth owe this community of donors our deepest thanks.”

The College’s approach to soliciting contributions was “pretty consistent” with that of previous years, Pelzel said.

“We realized this year that we would have to reach far and wide to as many individuals as possible because there are some individuals who have been hurt by the economic situation,” she said. “That being said, we always try to give every alumnus, alumna and parent an opportunity to participate to whatever extent their means allow.”

Over 99 percent of the Class of 2010 — the highest percentage of seniors in College history — contributed to the Senior Class Gift, which totaled $231,388, The Dartmouth previously reported. Pelzel said the high participation rate among College seniors is a testament to the diligence of the senior interns and volunteers.

“I think it says that by and large graduates feel that Dartmouth has had a very positive impact on their lives and on their future and that they wanted to demonstrate their support so that their successors will have an equally strong experience,” she said.

Pelzel said it is difficult to predict whether philanthropic giving will continue to rise in future years.

“We certainly hope things will continue to recover and that there will be optimism,” she said. “But unemployment is still high and some of our alumni are unfortunately among those who are unemployed. This is going to be a longer recovery than we’ve seen in other recessions.”

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