Using philanthropic investment to finance all or part of a new campus building is an approach that has long been used in the USA, the UK, and in Australian private schools.
With the recent government freeze on commonwealth supported places (CSP), campus buildings are expected to appear more often on the fundraising agenda of Australian universities also.
In some cases, fundraising donations will be needed to bridge a gap in public funding; in other cases, governments may insist on a portion of the overall project capital being financed through private donations.
The justification for philanthropic investment in large, single-use buildings is clear. The intended function of the building – for example, to house a team of academic researchers who are developing a disease cure – can be used to stimulate interest from people who are passionate about this cause.
But, the difficulty lies in coordinating fundraising efforts with the masterplanning process.
While many universities have dedicated and competent fundraising teams, other project stakeholders often have little to no expertise in capital campaigns – which can cause complications from a project management perspective.
Further, construction projects which rely on fundraising are subject to significant delays between consent approval and costing; and at the start of the construction while fundraising efforts take place.
Efforts are therefore required to align masterplanning with the work of fundraising teams.
Dr. Daniel McDiarmid is a Principal Consultant at AskRight and an international fundraising expert with more than thirty years’ experience.
Dr. McDiarmid led the first ever Australian University campaign to raise more than $100 million; consulted the National University of Singapore on the scaling-up of its fundraising and alumni programs; and was an early adviser to the University of Auckland campaign which raised $203 million.
He says, “It is vital that those involved in the masterplanning process are engaged early on in the formulation of capital campaigns, to ensure that fundraising efforts are appropriately factored into the overall project.”
“Fundraising-induced delays in construction annoy university property staff and contractors and can lead to additional charges. Effectively coordinating the two endeavors is key to efficiency and cost-effectiveness”.
Dr. McDiarmid is due to present at the University Masterplans Summit – 28-29 June 2018 in Sydney – where he will reflect on overseas success stories and provide specific recommendations on how those involved in the masterplanning process can adapt their approach, to better accommodate fundraising efforts.