Only the Audacious campaign earns $907 million, aims to reach goal in five years


Josh Jessimen | Photography Editor

The “Only the Audacious” campaign was announced at the end of last semester and aims to raise $1.3 billion.

“Only the Audacious” is a campaign set to raise a historic $1.3 billion in about five years.  Though students know the campaign exists, some say they are unclear on who the money is coming from or how the money is being allocated.

During the campaign’s silent phase, more than 54,000 people donated a total of $820 million to the school. Ginny Wise, senior vice president of advancement, said the campaign has raised $87 million since the announcement, putting the total at $907 million.

President Mike Fitts said there is a need for this campaign, as Tulane’s endowment is small relative to peer institutions.

“We must increase the size of our endowment if we are to focus more resources on pioneering research, increase scholarships for first-generation, students of color and other underserved populations, attract and retain the best faculty and build an environment to support excellence,” Fitts said.   

Donations to the campaign come from a range of gift-giving levels. 97 percent (11,552) of donations come from the lowest gift-giving tier, under $10,000.

Wise said ‘earmarking’ means donors can spend extra money to fund a specific project. She said campaign leaders meet with potential donors to discuss their interests. Then, they try to match the donor’s gift with a campus initiative that aligns with their priorities.

Campaign leaders do recommend donations with unrestricted access. Therefore, the people who are most familiar with the university can choose how best to allocate the money. Wise said she’s thankful that the majority of donors are giving unrestricted donations.

“[General campaign] funds are generally used to pay for the operating expenses of the university,” Fitts said.

“Only the Audacious” is a comprehensive campaign, so donations to any department or fund count toward the campaign’s goal.

Some major gifts in the campaign so far include $100 million from the Weatherhead Foundation to fund scholarships and support faculty, $15 million from the Patrick F. Taylor Foundation to create the Phyllis M. Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking and an anonymous anchor gift to create The Commons.  

In addition, Wise said that sexual violence prevention and “Wave of Change” is a priority for the campaign. She said it is something pitched to undecided donors. So far, this particular interest has garnered more than $410 from the giving link.

Wise also noted that “Wave of Change” is already included under the four umbrella pillars of the campaign: Pioneering Research, Transformative Teaching, Opportunity and Diversity and Building an Environment for Excellence.

According to Wise, the pillars are shaped in large part by the school deans, but also reflect the feelings of a variety of other community members, including administrators, students and the Board of Tulane University, to outline the priorities of the campaign. She said many projects have cropped up through intra-school and inter-school interactions and student-dean collaboration, such as the Digital Scholarship Center and the Outside Classroom.

Wise said this year’s donations (Fiscal Year 2017-18) have surpassed Tulane’s giving record of $140 million. Those working on the campaign are hopeful to set an even larger record because the Financial Year does not end until June 30.

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