UBC raises $1.6 billion in seven-year fundraising campaign

UBC’s seven-year “start an evolution” fundraising campaign — one of the largest and most ambitious of its kind in Canadian history — concluded September 30 with a total of $1.62 billion raised. This number both surpassed the original $1.5 billion goal and succeeded in doubling the number of alumni actively engaged in the university.

“This level of involvement allows us to build the excellent research and student learning opportunities that make UBC a world leader,” said interim President Martha Piper in a speech to the Vancouver Board of Trade while announcing the results of the campaign.

The ambitious goal was decided on after extensive feasibility studies, demonstrating UBC’s confidence in its ability to raise the money through increasingly aggressive fundraising initiatives. Relationships with alumni are crucial — about 20 per cent of donations came from alumni.

Regarding the portion of money that most directly benefits students, “About $150 million went to student aid,” said Richard Fisher, chief communications officer for UBC.

That chunk of money — comprising about 10 per cent of the total — funded a reported 930 new scholarships, bursaries and awards. “There was quite a drive for student scholarships this time,” added Fisher.

Donors choose which initiatives they would like to support. First, “the specific projects are all agreed [upon] in advance with the deans … it’s got to be something [that the university] is already working on or interested in,” said Fisher.

The money is designated for the extra initiatives that the university would like to pursue. “We are not raising money to keep the lights on or put people in classrooms,” Piper told The Globe and Mail. “I don’t think this in any way takes away the responsibility of government to provide operating expenses or for students to pay the appropriate tuition levels.”