Another Multi-Billion-Dollar Campaign: Why This is Great News for Philanthropy

The University of California at Los Angeles has announced the public phase of a $4.2 billion fundraising campaign, the largest ever by a state university, in honor of its upcoming centennial. Between this campaign and the multi-billion-dollar campaigns of Stanford, Harvard, and UCLA’s crosstown rival the University of Southern California, are donors in danger of campaign fatigue?

The skeptics would say yes – campaigns, particularly the mega-campaigns of higher education – are getting out of control.

Another outlook: the philanthropic community as a whole wins as campaigns get larger and larger.

Large campaigns mean large gifts – a blend of major gifts and planned (estate) gifts.  It means more donors getting involved, opening their wallets, and making a difference.  It means more fundraisers needing to be hired.  It means more professional advisors – attorneys, CPAs, financial planners – helping their clients structure the best gift strategies possible, in collaboration with fundraising staff.

More important, large campaigns mean optimism – optimism about the state of giving and philanthropy.  Optimism on the part of Board members that these lofty goals can be reached or surpassed.  Optimism on the part of donors who believe in the campaign and its promises.

That sense of optimism carries through the entire donor community.  Those who give away money are happy people.

UCLA already has $1.3 billion under its belt in this campaign.  The school has a ways to go to reach its goal – but just by announcing the campaign, all of us involved in philanthropy are better off.

photo: Ken Wolter / Shutterstock.com

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