UC Berkeley sets fundraising record at $569M in donations during 2017-18 fiscal year

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Jenn Zeng/Staff

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During the 2017-18 fiscal year, UC Berkeley raised more than $569 million in donations, grants and pledges — its highest sum in history.

A campus report shows that about 66,000 donors contributed toward the grand total, which is composed of funds from 108,000 individual gifts. In context, the numbers rose by 21 percent and 19 percent from 2017 and 2016, respectively.

The largest share of the $569 million in donations — about $256 million will go toward program support, while funding for research holds second place at approximately $120 million. $36.8 million will be reserved for unrestricted use.

“We could not have achieved this milestone without the collective efforts of our incredibly dedicated campus partners,” said Vice Chancellor for University Development and Alumni Relations Julie Hooper in a campuswide email. “I look forward to sharing more good news as we continue onward in our 150th year.”

Shifts in fundraising strategy may have also bolstered donations. In her email, Hooper also remarked on the success of Big Give, a 24-hour annual philanthropic event that attracted 9,000 donations, as well as UC Berkeley’s partnership with campaign consulting firm Marts & Lundy.

Colleen Rovetti, campus executive director of external relations and marketing communications, further commented on administrative influences.

“Our donors are responding very positively to Chancellor Christ’s leadership,” Rovetti said in an email. “We are also benefiting from more focused collaborations among campus units which has resulted in some of our largest gifts to date.”

According to Rovetti, campus was given an anonymous $50 million donation to support “recruitment and retention of STEM faculty.” Additionally, campus received an anonymous $10 million pledge to support the Undocumented Student Program, the Berkeley Hope Scholars, the Berkeley Underground Scholars, a Fiat Lux scholarship and the African American Initiative.

Berkeley Underground Scholars, or BUS, is a program that provides tutoring and resources to formerly incarcerated students and engages in rehabilitation advocacy efforts. According to outgoing Outreach Coordinator Abdullah Puckett, BUS has been operating solely on a one-time donation of $500,000 in 2014.

Puckett said he hopes the organization will now be able to hire its own counselors and pay its team of 30 members, of whom only eight received salaries.

“(Funding) was definitely a subject that we discussed often, (and) with a considerable amount of consternation,” Puckett said. “It is so important that (we) … not just rest on our heels, when we hear we have a little bit more funding, for a little bit longer time.”

ASUC External Affairs Vice President Nuha Khalfay said the budget and fundraising outcomes could signal “a unique turning point” and are “a great first step,” though she stressed the continued need for student involvement in advocacy efforts.

“A lot of the increased fundraising success has to do with student stories and efforts by the administration to really prioritize fundraising efforts,” Khalfay said. “(We need to) make sure this is a long-term, well-structured movement engaging all of our partners.”

Contact Anna Ho at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @anna_j_ho.