Emory Report
October 20, 2008
Volume 61, Number 8



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October 20
, 2008
Campaign Emory: Your questions answered

By kim urquhart

On Sept. 25 Campaign Emory announced a $1.6 billion goal, the most ambitious fundraising endeavor in the University’s history and the largest ever undertaken in Georgia. The good news is that the campaign already has raised more than half of its goal — $849 million — over the past three years leading up to the public announcement. Amidst the University celebration of what this investment means for fulfilling Emory’s vision was the realization that the nation is facing a widespread economic downturn.

Emory Report queried Employee Council, Faculty Council and Student Government Association leadership to find out community concerns regarding the economy’s possible impact on the campaign, and posed those questions to Susan Cruse, senior vice president of development and alumni relations.

Emory Report: Why is Emory launching a campaign now, in the midst of a national economic downturn?
Susan Cruse: We announced the goal on Sept. 25, but Campaign Emory began on Sept. 1, 2005. The stakeholders who care about Emory, including our strong base of alumni in Georgia and around the world, continue to invest in Emory’s vision for positive transformation in the world. On Sept. 25 we thanked our early supporters and unveiled Campaign Emory to a broader constituency and invited them to invest as well. To stop now would have halted the momentum we already have, and it would have been unfair to those who place their trust, and their dollars, with us. Our peers have not stopped. There are 29 universities in $1 billion-plus campaigns right now. We can’t stop, and the need has not diminished. If anything, the downturn makes it more important to increase endowment and provide financial aid.

ER: Will the downturn in the investment market have an impact on giving going forward?
Cruse: Historically, recessions have little or no effect on philanthropy in general. Extrapolating data from the last recession in 2001, Boston College wealth researcher John Havens has said that unless national incomes decline sharply, the decline won’t last long and it won’t be significant. Universities in particular are pretty recession-proof. I do think there is another dimension to this financial crisis, and we don’t have enough data to know what to expect. We’re all going to watch carefully and see what happens.

ER: What can students, staff and faculty do to support Campaign Emory? And why do our gifts matter?
Cruse: In addition to running a campaign, we’re trying to instill a culture of philanthropy where everybody has a role. And everybody does. Faculty, staff and students are our stakeholders, advocates and role models. Get involved in whatever way fulfills you. You can visit the campaign Web site at www.campaign.emory.edu, you can call me or any of development officers in any of the units if there is a specific interest that you have, but all support is welcome in any form. There is no gift too small. Every dollar provides relief for the already impacted budget.

ER: What goes on behind the scenes in the Office of Development and University Relations during a campaign?
Cruse: In a nutshell, we are taking the campaign to a much broader audience, identifying and engaging additional stakeholders for our programs, and talking to a wide variety of people about what they can invest in at Emory. We steward the gifts, and we have a fiduciary responsibility to use the money as the donor intended. Ensuring a successful campaign is not just about the dollar goal. It’s did we accomplish what we set out to accomplish? Did we advance the strategic plan? Did we get more people excited about Emory? Have we contributed to the community?

ER: What impact will the campaign have had on Emory when it concludes in 2012?
Cruse: As President Wagner says, we’re not striving to be another Harvard or Princeton — we want to be the best Emory we can be. And unlike most universities, Emory has a living strategic plan. We know where we’re going, we know the areas where we have the edge, and we’re building on that. We want to be a place where we can provide access to students regardless of economic need. We want to contribute to positive transformation in the world in a variety of ways, from addressing world hunger, to advancing therapies for disease, to introducing someone to the beauties of art or live performance. The bottom line at the end of the day is that our faculty and students are why we’re here. They are what the campaign truly is all about.