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Duke Annual Fund projects record year

With high ambitions, Duke hopes to exceed its private donation goals as the 2010-2011 fiscal year comes to a close.

As of June 25, the Duke Annual Fund had received more than $24.6 million in gifts toward its $27.8 million goal, William Conescu, executive director of alumni and development communications, wrote in an email June 27. If this goal is reached it will exceed last year’s record high of more than $26.5 million raised. It will also show almost 50 percent growth since fiscal year 2001-2002, a year that received donations totaling $18.5 million. The Annual Fund is one part of Duke’s total fundraising.

Conescu noted that Duke tends to receive a particularly high volume of private donations as it approaches the end of the fiscal year June 30.

“The final week of the year is among our busiest,” he said. “We’ll have a more comprehensive story to tell when we have final numbers.”

Additionally, several large donations have been made to the University throughout the year such as $15 million toward expansion of the Duke School of Nursing, $20 million to biomedical engineering research and $80 million allocated for Baldwin Auditorium, Page Auditorium and West Union renovations.

In fiscal year 2009-2010, Duke received a total of $345.5 million—an almost 15 percent increase from the 2008-2009 fiscal year, which brought in $301.6 million after dropping from $385.7 million in 2007-2008. This year’s total donations are not yet available for release.

So far this year, over 100,000 individuals and private organizations have made financial commitments to Duke to contribute to almost every aspect of the University—ranging from financial aid and research funding to athletics and the Sarah P. Duke Gardens, Conescu said.

Jennifer Cameron, director of alumni giving and associate director of the Annual Fund, said the Annual Fund’s success this year can be partially attributed to generous alumni giving. They have received alumni donations totaling upwards of $14.1 million—exceeding their goal of $12.3 million by $1.8 million, she wrote in an email June 26. More than 4,000 alumni have contributed through single-year and multi-year commitments to the Annual Fund in honor of their undergraduate reunions.

She noted that she expects to receive more donations by the end of the fiscal year.

“The reunion gift campaigns this year have been very successful, and donors still have until June 30 to make a gift,” Cameron said.

Cameron also noted that the Class of 1981 made a record high class donation in honor of their 30th reunion—more than $4.5 million.

Jim Schiff, Trinity ’81 and co-chair of the class’ 30th reunion, said good organization and the collective effort of a philanthropic class made the sizable donation possible.

“As to why the Class of [19]81 [was able to collect so many donations], it’s tempting to say we’re better,” Schiff wrote in an email June 28. “The truth of it, though, is that we’re fortunate to have many generous classmates who have done well in the world and are eager to show their gratitude for the institution that launched them.”

Durham City Council member Mike Woodard, Trinity ’81, said his class has always given considerable gifts to the University, so the reunion was not necessarily the cause for such a large contribution to the Annual Fund.

“Our class has always been fairly generous, so it certainly isn’t out of the norm that we led the effort,” Woodward said. “I mean, this wasn’t our 25th reunion.”

Woodard, who made a donation this year, added that he feels compelled to give back to Duke so that future students can have a quality Duke experience similar to his own.

“Duke was a wonderful place for me, and it provided me a great education and social and extracurricular opportunities,” he said. “I recognized that without alumni support, they cannot provide the same things to future students.”

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