Vice chancellor for University Development David Routh is leading the massive fundraising plan, “The Campaign for Carolina,” and said UNC always needs to raise money in to keep tuition low and maintain adequate financial aid.
“One of the things we’re trying to do is shift the model at Carolina even more toward private support so that the state of North Carolina doesn’t have to continue funding this at levels that are difficult to afford in the budget,” he said.
Routh said the purpose of a concerted campaign like this one is to hone in on the specifics for which the money is needed. He said there was an 18-month planning process, involving every dean, vice chancellors, department chairs, students and volunteers, where the University tried “to get our arms around exactly what we need to raise money for.”
Students are a major focus for the Campaign for Carolina. Around $1 billion of the total gains will be allocated for scholarships and student aid packages, including the Carolina Covenant and Blue Sky Scholars program, for low and middle-class students, respectively.
The Campaign for Carolina has been successful with alumni, with 27 percent of them participating so far, but Routh said UNC looks outside of its own network for donations, too.
“The real magic to all of this is connecting people to something they really care about, that the University really needs,” he said.
Routh pitches the work being done by UNC to potential donors. His goal is to connect them with the projects they’re passionate about and show them how their donation can help UNC improve its footholds in projects around the world, like autism research, cancer research or global health.
“The interest in those things is not limited to people who hold degrees from here,” he said.
The Campaign for Carolina is operated in conjunction with the University’s Blueprint for Next, which is a plan for actualizing the changes to campus that the Campaign for Carolina will make possible.
Currently, the Blueprint for Next — a short document that expresses UNC’s values — is being operationalized to prepare for its implementation on campus.
Routh said the political environment on campus is probably more active than it was 20 years ago, but despite that, he sees the opportunity to support student growth as an apolitical subject.
“We just have to keep telling our story,” he said.
Carolina’s story has generated serious cash; from the start of the campaign until Jan. 20, 409 individuals have given over a million dollars each, totaling $1.64 billion. One donor gave a gift of $102.2 million.
“If we talk about the core missions and the real work that’s being done on the university campus, those political issues tend to subside and they are not an issue in terms of peoples giving,” Routh said.