Capital Campaign proceeds despite recession

By Amy Lieberman

Macalester has already raised 76 million of its 150 million goal for the college’s capital campaign, and despite a possible imminent national recession, President Brian Rosenberg said he remains “cautiously optimistic” about the campaign’s future. The campaign will officially go public on Oct. 8, 2008, but Macalester has been approaching philanthropists and former trustees for significant donations since June, 2006, working within the campaign’s “silent phase.”

“In terms of the campaign’s trajectory, we’ve stayed above where we need to be,” Rosenberg said.

Tommy Bonner, vice president for advancement and development, said that as of December, Macalester surpassed its target goal by an additional $2 million. By the end of March, Bonner said, the college might “jump ahead” with an unprecedented $4 million.

Still, though the capital campaign remains on track, Rosenberg said that it is premature to see the economy’s potential impacts on Macalester’s fundraising efforts.

“So much has happened over the past few months, it has really been too soon to know the effects of the economy,” he said.

But Rosenberg also added that American philanthropy tends to be “very resilient.

“Even during the worst market downfall in the beginning of the decade, philanthropic support didn’t grow very much, but it didn’t decline very sharply.”

Macalester has not planned any alternative methods of fundraising, nor have administrators discussed the possibility of extending the campaign. The campaign is slated to conclude on May 31, 2011.

-“If we were hitting a lull then I would be concerned,” Bonner said. “But at this point, we are not.”

Macalester’s ongoing capital campaign will finance the construction of the Macalester Athletic Recreational Center, the Institute for Global Citizenship building, and a remodeled Fine Arts building. The bulk of the money, though, will go toward need-based aid for students.

Bonner said that since the MARC construction is already well underway, and the college will break construction on the IGC building this spring, the possibility of lengthening the campaign is more remote.

“Sure, it [the economy] is a concern,” Bonner said. “But is it going to slow down what we are doing? No. Ultimately, we need the money for scholarships and to build the Fine Arts and the MARC. Our needs don’t change.”

The college has generally sought “significant donations” during this “silent phase” of the campaign, Bonner said, but once the campaign goes public, alumni and parents should expect to see and hear a lot more about the ongoing fundraising.

“We will be talking in all of our alumni publications and at receptions,” Bonner said. “The idea is to have half of the money when we go public, and we have already passed the half way point. It certainly feels better to be running ahead then behind.