Campaign fundraising, goals and timeline

Q: What kinds of projects are donors supporting in the UW’s campaign?

Donors contribute to a variety of programs and projects that support the University’s public mission in virtually every department and unit on campus. These private gifts support student scholarships, professorships, capital projects and other priorities. Many of these priorities reflect areas for which investments that add to state support enable the UW to achieve excellence in particular programs. Finally, some of the gifts raised during the campaign go toward the University’s endowment to ensure long-term, stable support.

Q: What is the financial goal of the campaign?

$5 billion.

Q: How were funding priorities identified?

Identifying campaign priorities was the result of nearly three years of collaboration between University leadership, academic leadership and community leaders. Clear funding priorities emerged in response to which efforts at the UW could be maximized to address society’s greatest challenges.

Q: What gifts count as campaign gifts?

In this comprehensive campaign we count all gifts and private grants to all areas for all purposes, just as we do when we are not in a campaign. Additionally, we count pledges and qualifying bequest expectancies.

Q: When did the campaign begin?

The preparation for the campaign began on July 1, 2010, and the nucleus phase commenced on July 1, 2013. The campaign launched publicly on Oct. 21, 2016.

Relationship between campaign and state support

Q: Why does a state university need a private philanthropic campaign?

The goals of the UW’s philanthropic campaign are fundamentally the same as the funding priorities the University has always sought from the state – improving access, affordability and quality. Citizens of Washington support the UW through the taxes they pay, as well as through their philanthropic gifts, and together they make it possible for the University to serve the people of Washington in a range of important ways.

The UW and its partners work closely to highlight the need for increased state investment in higher education and we will continue to make this a priority in the next legislative session. While state support has increased since the end of the Great Recession, state funding per student is still far less than a generation ago. For example, in 1991, the state provided 80 percent of the funding per UW student (state support plus tuition revenue). Today, the state covers 32 percent of funding per student.

Q: If the UW can raise billions from its donors, why does the University need state funding at all?

The UW is proud to be a public university dedicated to serving the people of Washington and grateful for the support Washington residents provide. State funds, paired with tuition revenue, are crucial for core academic functions, such as student services and faculty support. Investing in the UW is a wise use of public dollars: the University’s most recent economic impact report shows the UW generates $12.5 billion in economic impact in the state of Washington.

Also, 95 percent of donors give with a specific purpose in mind, which restricts how the University can spend the funds and investment returns. The flexibility of state funds makes those dollars crucial to the effective operation of the University.

Q: Can the UW use donor funds to lower the price of tuition?

Donor contributions are used for scholarships across campus to offset tuition costs, with thousands of UW students benefitting from scholarships each year. It would not be prudent to base tuition rates on something as volatile and frequently-restricted as donation income. Additionally, resident undergraduate tuition rates are set by the Legislature for all public universities.

Q: Can the donations from the campaign be used to boost faculty salaries?

In a way, yes. Donors may choose to contribute to professorships and/or chair positions within specific departments. Donations will not raise faculty salaries across the board, as a one-time campaign is not a sustainable source of funding for annual faculty salaries.

Q: Why should the state fund UW capital projects if the UW can find corporate partners to foot some or most of the bill?

The Puget Sound area’s tech industry is desperate for qualified graduates. State investment in areas such as STEM makes sense as it ensures universities can produce highly skilled workers for existing jobs and thus boost the local economy. Microsoft, Amazon and others have made generous contributions to the UW that allow the University to expand its capacity to produce sought-after degrees, but their primary mission will always be developing and selling their products, not providing universities with buildings. These companies are partners, not long-term funding sources.

Q: Why should the state fund financial aid such as the State Need Grant if the UW is raising millions for scholarship support?

The State Need Grant is part of the state’s commitment to financial aid and is funded through state appropriations. Currently, the State Need Grant is not able to meet demand, leaving more than 24,000 eligible college students without aid and affecting students at virtually all Washington higher education institutions, not just the UW. Closing this gap is a priority for all of Washington’s universities.

Additionally, the UW provides scholarships and programs like the Husky Promise. Scholarships and other aid that can supplement state-funded financial aid are a priority for the campaign.