Trinity’s first full-scale funding campaign will launch in late 2018, as the College looks to increase the amount of philanthropic donations it receives amid few indications that state funding for higher education would increase in the near future.
At a meeting of the College Board on November 9th, Provost Patrick Prendergast said he anticipated the campaign would be launched publicly in 2018. Planning for the campaign began in late 2015 with the idea of a “campaign cabinet”, made up of five internal and five external members as well as the Provost’s Council.
Last Tuesday, speaking at Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU)’s council meeting, Prendergast said that the campaign was currently in its “planning stages”. “This will be the first comprehensive philanthropic campaign in the College’s history”, he said.
In an email to The University Times, Trinity’s Dean of Development, Gerard McHugh, said that September 2018 would be a likely timeline, because it would allow a two and a half year campaign to run to the end of Prendergast’s term as Provost. Two and a half to three years, he said, “is considered the duration that the public phase of a campaign can be sustained”.
The Trinity Foundation is currently responsible for raising philanthropic funds on the College’s behalf. In recent years, the university has put increased effort into attracting financial support from potential donors. In December 2014, it was revealed that €20 million had been gained in donations from 20 Trinity graduates or individuals connected to the College to fund the construction of the new Trinity Business School.
A presentation given to the College Board in December 2015 gave mid-2017 as a provisional date for the launch of the campaign. Philanthropy has become increasingly important to Trinity in recent years, as state funding has declined. Currently, only 40 per cent of Trinity’s funding comes from the government and College often performs strongly compared to UK universities with similar philanthropic campaigns. The presentation to the Board stated that Trinity was ranked first, compared to UK universities, on funds raised as a percentage of university budget.
Speaking at TCDSU’s council, Prendergast stated: “All the revenue that this project generates will go back into research and education. It will go back into funding lecturers and budgets in your schools, to improve the quality of what is being delivered to you.”
Prendergast acknowledged, however, that “government funding will always be an important part of the model”. The National Strategy for Higher Education, the Hunt Report, noted that in Ireland “any credible effort to expand the role of philanthropic funding is critically dependent on the continuation of sustained public investment”.
Ireland, unlike the US, does not possess anything of a history or tradition of philanthropic donations. Ireland’s most famous philanthropist would likely be Chuck Feeney, known for his donations in particular to the University of Limerick.
For major universities, campaign launches usually include a public launch on campus alongside what McHugh called “satellite launches” in major cities around the world with “significant alumni populations”.
“For Trinity, this would probably mean London, the US and perhaps a central location on the Asian continent”, he said.