Yale Tomorrow boosts annual giving

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Photo by Tapley Stephenson.

The record-breaking final year of the Yale Tomorrow fundraising campaign also set an all-time best in donations to the University’s annual giving funds, according to a report released Monday by the Office of Development.

The Annual Report of Giving to Yale showed that alumni contributions to the University’s annual funds amounted to $34.5 million of the $862 million donated in fiscal year 2011. The unprecedented total followed what University administrators called a “push to the finish,” which brought a surge of funds at the end of Yale Tomorrow.

“It was the end of the campaign and a number of gifts had been under discussion for quite some time over the course of Yale Tomorrow, so the fact that the campaign was ending motivated people to make a gift,” University Vice President of Development Inge Reichenbach said. “That, along with the recovering economy, led to a very strong year in fundraising.”

Annual giving funds, which include the Yale Alumni Fund, the Parents’ Annual Fund and the Senior Class Gift, are known as “current-year” funds because they help finance the University’s annual budget, rather than contributing to campus construction or the University endowment. Fundraising tallies last fiscal year set records for several individual funds, including those of the Parents’ Annual Fund and two individual class gifts.

The Parents’ Annual Fund raised a record-high $2.35 million and saw 37.8 percent participation from parents of current students. That year, donors were allowed for the first time to choose between supporting financial aid, undergraduate life, faculty or a fourth unrestricted option that would leave the use of the contributions up to Yale’s discretion.

The majority of donors, according to the report, chose to leave their donations unrestricted, which Reichenbach said demonstrated their confidence in the University’s ability to spend their money wisely. Events such as Family Weekend are critical for gaining this trust with parents, she added.

“The large amount of unrestricted donations comes with the sense that the University has good management, good priorities, good goals,” Reichenbach said.

Two class gifts funds also broke records, according to the report. The class of 1951 broke a 16-year-old record by compiling a 60th reunion gift of $56.3 million. The class of 2011 raised $40,808 to top the Yale record for a senior class gift, and multiple donors matched the student efforts to bring the total over $240,000.

The 2010-’11 year was the last of five in the public phase of the Yale Tomorrow campaign, which launched in September 2006 with a $3 billion goal that administrators increased to $3.5 billion in June 2008. The campaign, which ended June 30, ultimately exceeded its goal by $386 million, and Reichenbach announced in September that fundraising in the 2011 fiscal year had set a record for annual University totals.

Given the record-breaking year and the end of the campaign, both Reichenbach and University President Richard Levin said it was unlikely that fundraising in 2011-’12 would be as substantial. But Levin said he is not worried about a potential drop in fundraising.

“There’s no doubt about it, you can never match the last year of a campaign,” Levin said. “This one was so far beyond expectations, we’d be delighted to get 50 percent of what we got this year.”

Still, Reichenbach has told the News in the past that fundraising following the end of a campaign typically remains significantly higher than pre-campaign levels.

In addition to providing fundraising statistics, the Office of Development report also published an honor roll listing everyone who donated in fiscal year 2011. Famous names on the list included Fareed Zakaria ’86, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton LAW ’73 and former President Bill Clinton LAW ’73.

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