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Building philanthropy into UCL’s fabric – It’s All Academic Campaign update

10 November 2017

Lori Houlihan, Vice-Provost (Development), reflects on the successful first year of the £600 million Campaign for UCL

“What better return on an investment is there than knowing you have made a difference that will contribute to greater knowledge and understanding, and the development of academic excellence?”

I love this comment by Richard Jenkins, one of UCL’s wonderful supporters, because it encapsulates both what philanthropy achieves and what motivates people to give.

Richard along with his partner Maureen Amar fund a range of scholarships and have their own particular reasons for focusing their philanthropy there. But that generous impulse to drive change and improve lives is one that anyone who has worked in fundraising will recognise.

One year on – our new Campaign total

We are now a little over a year on from the public launch of UCL’s fundraising and engagement Campaign It’s All Academic – a year which has really reinforced to us the value of campaigns for institutions focused on taking their fundraising to the next level.

One year on from our September launch, our total raised stood at £344 million, over halfway towards our target of £600m.

Provost_Campaign Launch

We are also doing well when it comes to engagement, having banked 73,000 volunteering hours towards the target of 250,000 – representing an increasingly engaged worldwide alumni community supporting each other and UCL through mentoring current students, organising social and professional events, and advocating and using their networks on our behalf.

Central to the success of any fundraising organisation is its ability to establish genuine long-term relationships with its supporters.

The first year of the Campaign has seen OVPD restructure in order to strengthen our ability not just to initiate relationships with global philanthropists but to maintain and develop those relationships over many years, with a new donor relations team dedicated to managing that activity in a strategic, personalised way.

Recognising £1m+ donors

As part of that, we have launched a new initiative – The UCL Circle of Benefactors – to recognise those supporters who have given £1 million or more to UCL.

The launch event in September was hugely successful and we were pleasantly surprised by how many individual donors and senior representatives of organisations and businesses (busy, in-demand people) joined us from around the world to be officially inducted into the Circle – a wonderful sign, of course, of how personally invested they are in UCL.

Michael Arthur inducts donors into the UCL Circle of Benefactors

The event was uniquely UCL, including a debate led by some of our leading academics on the relevance of Jeremy Bentham’s philosophy to our research today, and our guests gave extremely warm feedback on how much they enjoyed the evening and felt appreciated by our community.

That latter point is vital; our supporters have a relationship with UCL itself not only with OVPD or individual fundraisers, academics or students.

The presence of staff and students is one of the big draws that bring donors and potential donors to our events, and is a vital signal to them about how philanthropy is valued across the university.

I am hugely grateful to everyone across the university who gives their time so generously.

New Donor Wall for Wilkins Terrace

Philanthropy is part of the fabric of UCL and we will reflect that literally next autumn when we unveil a new Donor Wall in Wilkins Terrace, upon which the names that make up the UCL Circle of Benefactors will be permanently recorded.

In keeping with the spirit of UCL, students from the Slade and the Bartlett have been invited to submit proposals for designing this wall.

The winning entry will be chosen by a selection panel made up of representatives of the Slade, the Bartlett, UCL Estates, the Institute of Making, UCL Culture and the architects of Wilkins Terrace, who will also support the winning student to deliver a design that is creative, high quality, appropriate for the site and has the flexibility to incorporate the names of many future £1m+ donors.

We’re hugely excited to see what the ideas that our talented students will create to recognise our most generous supporters right at the heart of UCL.

Thank you to everyone who has supported the Campaign over its first year, who has attended the launch event or the It’s All Academic Festival, engaged donors or taken part in alumni events.

All our individual efforts build up to a whole many times more than the sum of its parts and deliver great things for UCL.

I look forward to seeing many more of you during the Campaign’s second, and hopefully even more successful, year.