Capital campaign on target to potentially reach goal early

Capital Campaign dinner, Nov. 21, 2014. (Chuck Zovko/Zovko Photographic LLC)

Two years ago, on a historic Laf-Lehigh rivalry weekend, Lafayette announced that the public portion of the capital campaign could reach $400 million by 2018. With $327 million already in the bucket, college officials said they are now performing above their target.

The campaign, which has undergone six years of a private phase and two years of a public phase, has set a short term goal to raise $33 million by the end of this academic year.

Vice President of Development Kim Spang says they are “definitely on target” in terms of fundraising. To finish the goal on time, the college must reel in $45 million a year.

“Last [fiscal] year we brought in about $51 million, so we are performing above our targets, so $400 million is definitely in reach by December 2018, June 2019 at the latest,” Spang said.

Executive Director of Advancement Stephanie Hayes said that in just the past six months, the campaign has raised $10 million.

The campaign also has goals for specific departments. Of 15 different priorities, the campaign is mostly concerned with raising money for faculty endowment, the integrated sciences, the annual fund and financial aid.

Spang said there has been a particular enthusiasm around financial aid donations.

“We’ve raised the goal from $60 million to $85 million,” she said, as a result of increased donations. Hayes described how she is “continually impressed” by the donations Lafayette receives from organizations and individuals.

Many donations have also been received for faculty endowment, allowing for 12 new faculty positions as a result of this campaign.

The campaign has seen a decrease in donations to the annual fund, but an increase in donations given to specific departments or categories, especially amongst young alumni.

“Especially younger alumni, they want to target and know exactly where their gift is going and what that impact will be,” Spang said.

Although restricted donations may cause some difficulties in terms of reaching goals for specific priorities, Spang said that she sees it as a positive trend.

“I think we can really tell the stories and tell the direct impact of those donations,” she said.

There have also been noticeable trends of younger alumni donating to career services and to specific academic programs and fields, Spang added.

The campaign has and continues to host events on and off campus in hopes of creating more initiatives for donating. Some of the recent events included the new Williams Art’s Campus Gala and the 150th engineering celebration.

“Having those two events so close together I think really illustrates Lafayette’s combination of engineering and liberal arts,” Spang said. “Something that this campaign will hopefully have an impact on.”

The campaign team is looking ahead at upcoming events but they are also starting to look towards the end.

“We’re also thinking about two years from now and what does that look like and how do we show the impact,” Spang says.

With just over two years remaining in the campaign, Spang says that the issue that “keeps [her] up at night” is the issue of keeping up momentum.

“You’ll see another uptick as we come into the last six months of the campaign because people are getting excited because they can see the end,” Spang said. “To me, the next 18 months are going to be the most difficult.”

Spang is also looking for new events and ways to involve students in the rest of the campaign.

“I would love to spend more time with students and get some thoughts and put a committee together where we can think about the next two years and think about what more we can do to impact our students….because this really is Lafayette’s campaign,” she said.

Kathryn Kelly ’19 contributed reporting.

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