UW fund near $2 billion goal

SEATTLE - The University of Washington appears likely to reach a $2 billion fundraising goal more than a year ahead of schedule, and leaders of the campaign are considering raising the target.

The UW Foundation campaign began in 2000 and was supposed to run through July 2008. According to a report to the school's Board of Regents this month, the total raised through the end of November exceeded $1.94 billion.

"It blows me away every day, to see the kind of confidence and excitement that people have about what's going on here," Constance H. Kravas, university vice president for development and alumni relations, told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Kravas would not say whether donations received in the past two months had put the total over the top.

A new bar

Last month the regents voted to authorize the foundation to consider raising the goal, but no figure was set on how high the new goal might be. The foundation board is scheduled to meet Friday to discuss the next step.

"We just had participation and gift levels which were higher than we might have thought so we're going to get here sooner, and we are clearly going to have a discussion about keeping the camping going," said Bill Gates Sr., the campaign chairman.

Overall, the campaign has drawn more than 226,000 donors with individual gifts ranging from a few dollars to more than $100 million. Alumni accounted for 18 percent of the donations in the current fiscal year, organizations 20 percent and foundations 19 percent.

Beyond those with direct connections to the school, contributions have been received from sources concerned with the effect on the community and those who wish to further specific areas of education or research, such as medicine and the environment, campaign organizers said.

At least a dozen similar fundraising campaigns are being conducted by other colleges and universities around the country of $2 billion or greater, the biggest a $4.3 billion effort by Stanford University.

School officials say the fundraising drives are partly to make up for cuts in government funding, but also in some cases to replace or renovate aging buildings or to boost scholarship funds to help students cover rising tuition and fees.

Universities that reach their targets early usually "celebrate victory but stress that their needs remain," said Rae Goldsmith, vice president for communications and marketing for the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, a professional organization for college fundraisers. "You'll very rarely see an institute stop raising money once they've achieved a goal."