September 26, 1996

It's official! Campaign's final total is $205 million

The final report on McGill's recently-completed Twenty-First Century Fund was presented last week to the University's Fund Council--the subcommittee of the Board of Governors which has primary responsibility for all aspects of McGill fundraising. The news, of course, was good--the campaign surpassed its target of $200 million by $5 million. The event also provided Fund Council members and McGill fundraisers with an opportunity to consider how university fundraising is changing.

Tom Thompson has seen his fair share of capital campaigns in his years at McGill. The development office veteran says McGill's most recent campaign stands out for a number of reasons.

"I think the campaign really highlights the shifting environment we're in as far as fundraising goes," says Thompson, who served as the campaign's deputy director. Corporate giving is going down, while gifts from individuals and families are on the rise. Fewer donors gave to the University than in previous campaigns, but the average size of these gifts was far higher than in the past.

Donors today also want many more details about what their money will be used for than they once did. "They're not as willing to just put the money in a pot and say, 'Use it the way you want.' We have to change our approach to fundraising," says Thompson.

In the future, McGill will be requesting larger gifts from more demanding donors who will be asking a lot of questions. "Soliciting gifts will take more time. Faculty have to become more involved because donors want to talk to expert witnesses before they make their decisions. They want deans and professors to tell them how their donations will jumpstart a new program or move an existing one forward. They won't want to talk to someone like me all that much."

Donations from individuals, including estates, accounted for 59% of the money raised, another 26.8% came from foundations and 14.2% from corporations.

Some aspects of the campaign were more successful than others. The goal for teaching and research was to raise $30 million. Instead, almost $80 million was raised. "One of the things that tells me is that there is clearly a great deal of confidence in the ability of McGill's faculty to do good research," says Thompson. This money resulted in the creation of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada and 16 new endowed chairs. The Faculty of Medicine's informatics program and the Centre for University Teaching and Learning were also greatly assisted by this money.

The campaign aimed for $50.1 million in donations for student needs and $50.49 million was raised. That money is being used to fund McGill's much improved athletics facilities and 151 new fellowships and scholarships.

On the downside, the campaign raised $11.98 million towards McGill's libraries instead of the hoped for $20.1 million. The campaign earned $9.76 million for equipment and renewed space instead of the $30.8 million goal. Just over $29 million was acquired for new construction. The campaign set out to earn $50.5 million for this purpose.

While there is disappointment over the money raised in these areas, the millions of dollars that were received are already having a profound impact on the University. The soon-to-be completed M.H. Wong Building which will house McGill's materials science researchers is a result of the campaign, as are recent and much-needed improvements to rehearsal rooms for music students and costume facilities for theatre students.

In addition, construction of an $8.5 million law library is set to get under way in the spring, with more than $8 million in private donations already committed to the project.

The campaign raised $19.8 million towards emerging priorities. The goal was $18.5 million. This money will be used by deans to deal with the greatest needs of their faculties.

McGill's previous campaign in the 1980s spurred 20 gifts of at least $1 million. The Twenty First Century Fund attracted 46 such donations. Students pledged about $4 million last time around and gave McGill $9.3 million during this campaign. Faculty and staff donated just over $ 1 million in the 1980s. That figure was upped to more than $4 million for the Twenty-First Century Fund.

Vice-Principal (Development and Alumni Relations) Derek Drummond says that Quebec's political uncertainty and economic problems had remarkably little impact. "Politics and economic cycles seem to have nothing to do with raising money."

More than 1,200 volunteers took part in the campaign and their involvement was judged to be crucial. Says Twenty-First Century Fund chair and Royal Bank CEO John Cleghorn, "People can say no to a letter."

Now that the work of the volunteers is finished, Drummond plans to find a way to channel their energy. "We will be developing programs and initiatives to (keep) them involved in the University," Drummond says.

Drummond and others praised Cleghorn for his role in the campaign. He was formally rewarded by the creation of a new endowed chair in his name in the Faculty of Management. Renowned management professor Henry Mintzberg will be the first to hold the chair.

Principal Bernard Shapiro thanked everyone involved in the campaign. He was particularly pleased by the campaign's geographic reach. Twenty-First Century Fund campaigners tapped into new donor groups for support--more than $12 million was raised from Hong Kong, for example.

Shapiro says McGill can't afford to relax its fundraising efforts, however. "Government funding is declining. So universities, to be sustained, need to have higher contributions from (other) sectors.

"For the future, I would like to find funding for those priorities not realized in the campaign. With regard to new initiatives, I would very much like to focus on projects--for instance, endowed chairs, fellowships and scholarships--that would bring some relief to the operating budget."

Reporting by Hélèna Katz and Daniel McCabe