The institution is aiming to raise £500 million by 2015 in a campaign fronted by Sir John Major, the former prime minister.
The drive comes within weeks of the government’s announcement that it will make cuts of 40 per cent to the higher education teaching and student-support budget.
Rick Trainor, principal of King’s, said the retrenchment meant that universities must make greater efforts to raise funds through philanthropy.
“In the current economic climate, it is vital that universities step up their fundraising efforts to ensure we remain at the forefront of groundbreaking research,” he said.
The campaign will focus on the university’s efforts to tackle global challenges and is backed by alumni including Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
“We are delighted that we are supported by a wide range of high-profile individuals and alumni. We hope that this campaign will inspire people to hope for a better world and demonstrate what role universities can play in creating it,” Professor Trainor said.
Last week, the University of Oxford revealed that its international fundraising campaign had reached the milestone of £1 billion in donations, despite the global financial crisis. The University of Cambridge’s equivalent drive reached the same figure in June, making it the first higher education institution outside the US to raise £1 billion.