‘B’ is for billion Rutgers tops major fundraising milestone

Andrew Sheldon//January 22, 2015//

‘B’ is for billion Rutgers tops major fundraising milestone

Andrew Sheldon//January 22, 2015//

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Rutgers University’s recent announcement puts a giant stake in the ground regarding what is possible for the college’s fundraising campaigns. At the end of a seven-and-a-half-year push, the university surpassed its fundraising goal of $1 billion by 3.7 percent.That percentage may not seem like much, but it represents an additional $37 million beyond the university’s goal.

Nevin Kessler, president of the Rutgers University Foundation, said creating a successful campaign of this size required pooling all of the school’s fundraising resources.

“At the end of the day, a campaign of this magnitude requires two things: It requires a broad degree of participation and then it requires some fairly large gifts in that seven- and eight-figure range,” he said.

Not only did the university work closely with large donors in discussing future potential for the university, it also relied on resources such as the Rutgers Telefund to generate other forms of income.

“We work at all levels of the capacity to give,” he said. “Everything from a recent graduate who might be able to give us 10 or 25 dollars to an individual who has the capacity to give us 10 to 25 million dollars.”

More than 130,000 individuals made gifts during the seven-year period, and more than half of the donors (70,690) were alumni.

Kessler joined the university 15 months ago, after working as the vice president for university advancement at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina.

This fundraising project was Kessler’s main mission upon taking his post at Rutgers.

“My biggest priority was to successfully complete this campaign on time,” he said.

And Rutgers was successful, raising the more than $1 billion total before Dec. 31, 2014.

For Kessler, this means the college will be able to “change the culture of philanthropy around the institution; to create expectations for the stakeholders of what can happen.”

To be clear, the school is not sitting on a $1 billion pile of money: The amount raised includes not just gifts, but pledges to be paid in the future. As such, $838 million of the total has been received, while $199 million has yet to be received.

Kessler also said that, over the seven-and-a-half-year period, much of the cash received has been spent, including $300 million that was placed into the school’s endowment. That has generated 29 newly endowed faculty chairs and 449 endowed undergraduate scholarships and graduate fellowships.

Other totals raised in key areas include:

  • $412.6 million for faculty and research;
  • $286.1 million for students and learning;
  • $132.7 million for campuses and facilities;
  • $174.2 million for university and community programs.


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