Jubilant Aberdeen exceeds fundraising target

November 29, 2002

Aberdeen University will reveal next week that it has exceeded the first target in its ambitious £150 million fundraising campaign, the largest ever attempted by any UK higher education institution outside Oxbridge.

Aberdeen launched its Sixth Century Campaign in 1999 with the aim of raising £150 million by 2010, £40 million of it by the end of 2002. Principal C. Duncan Rice will tell a celebratory gathering of donors that it has exceeded this by some £7 million.

When Professor Rice, an Aberdeen graduate, was vice-chancellor of New York University in the US, he led a fundraising effort that brought in $1 billion (£650 million) in ten years. Aberdeen backed his proposal for a US-style high-profile campaign with explicit targets. Professor Rice attributed its success to cooperation between "successful academics and professional fundraisers".

The professional fundraising side is not large: Aberdeen has only nine development-trust staff, including secretaries.

But the university is already reaping about £230,000 a year through students ringing graduates to tell them about the campaign. "The excitement of the students who do the calling makes people feel good about the university," Professor Rice said.

"This is an institution that is doing well, and nothing pleases people and companies and trusts more than us being a successful place. Academics are absolutely central because they have produced the quality that makes it attractive for people to give. Nothing is more persuasive than introducing (potential donors) to senior academics who are doing very exciting work."

Nine areas have been earmarked for funds. Among them are food and nutrition, including research into organic farming; scanning and diagnostic technology that builds on Aberdeen's invention of magnetic resonance imaging; public policy issues, including a centre for property research; and student support, from bursaries to better sports facilities.

"Thinking out what we want to ask people for is part of our strategic planning," Professor Rice said. "It helps focus the energy of the institution and our self-awareness."

He said he did not believe that US institutions benefit because of a more favourable tax regime. Recent changes in the UK have encouraged charitable donations, he said, despite some forms of giving being undermined by the fall in the stock market.

"I believe the money is out there, I believe that the tax regime is increasingly going to be helpful to us and I believe that Aberdeen has a great deal of success to sell," Professor Rice said.

BENEFACTORS AND BENEFICIARIES

* Since 1999, Aberdeen University has raised £21 million from 240 gifts from 30 charities, £9 million from legacies, £7.5 million from 3,000 graduates, £5 million from 250 gifts from 60 corporate donors and £2 million from friends of the university

* More than £17 million will support a project to prevent women dying in pregnancy and childbirth

* More than £15 million will fund the medical sciences

* Some £6.6 million will underwrite student support, including scholarships, bursaries and hardship funds

* More than £255,000 has been raised to commission a new organ for the historic King's College Chapel.

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