University appeals to donors in attempt to boost funding

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The University has produced a video appealing to donors in order to increase the amount of funding coming from philanthropic support. Produced by the Alumni and Development Office, the video, entitled ‘Help Us Make a Difference’, claims that “fundraising is vital” and aims to complement the University’s ongoing fundraising activities.

Since 2001 Friends of Lancaster University have donated or pledged £24 million. This has funded over 220 projects, and the video claimed “this philanthropic support gives us a financial space to think outside the box”. Jon Moulton, Chairman of Better Capital LLP and a Lancaster alumnus, stressed the importance of fundraising for research and furthering the University’s work: “Philanthropy brings in more resources to enable them [Lancaster University] to do more things that are interesting and not on the government’s agenda. That’s good for the University and its good for the country”.

The video also features Sir Chris Bonington, Chancellor of Lancaster University, who in a similar vein to Moulton says, “Lancaster University itself is helping to turn out and develop people who can actually face the challenges of the next 20, 30, 50 years.” The University is now turning to those people more than ever to provide a source of funding.

SCAN spoke to Nick Fragel, Director of the Alumni and Development Office, who believes the video “reflects the way we are using different channels to engage with our alumni and friends” and “aims to complement our other existing forms of contact with potential donors to highlight the value of philanthropic support for Lancaster University…it gives a very brief taste of our fundraising activities and their importance to Lancaster University”.

Appealing to donors is not an unfamiliar funding source for the University, with the Alumni and Development Office being set up in 2001 and a long-running initiative, The Friends Programme, using telephone campaigns to raise funds. The Bowland Trust has in the past donated £5 million, while overall 1,300 charitable trusts, foundations and alumni give regularly.

However, with the video coinciding “with increased traffic to the University website during Lancaster’s 50th anniversary” and when “other sources of funding are being squeezed”, as Fragel notes, the University is now trying to further increase donor funds. “Philanthropic funding is an area we can expand”, adds Fragel, although he asserts it is not a specific response to the uncertainties regarding University funding on a national level.

SCAN also spoke with Professor Cary Cooper, Distinguished Professor of Organisational Psychology and Health, who features in the video. Cooper claimed similar appeals “are taking part in all British universities, mainly because we don’t get enough from government. The government claim they are still spending a lot of money on research, and they are, but not in every field. The government resources are not enough to meet the demand… particularly [in] medical science, the environment, food security, water and certainly not in the social sciences either.”

Cooper said it is not just about research, however. “Universities have to raise money to support students. That is another angle of it.” Furthermore, Cooper said that “the Americans have been doing this for 50 years…The US has always raised money from the private sector and alumni to carry on its research and giving student support for things such as studentships. In Britain it is only in relatively recent times that we have tried to engage with our alumni.”

LUSU President Joel Pullan told SCAN that “donor funds are important in helping the university’s purse, and it’s clever to target specific projects to be funded by donors.”

The video, which can be found on the University’s YouTube channel, ended with the message “it’s wonderful if people will help the University because we can help so many more people”.

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