Trinity is to launch its first-ever philanthropic campaign next year, in an attempt to dramatically increase College’s revenue amid a sector-wide funding crisis.
The campaign, which was approved at Board in late 2016, will involve pitching Trinity to potential donors, with the aim of securing private funding to supplement backing from the government. The plan is being spearheaded by Trinity Development and Alumni.
In an email statement to The University Times, Trinity Development and Alumni’s Director of Advancement, Kate Bond, described the plan as “one of the most ambitious philanthropic campaigns ever undertaken in Ireland”.
Upcoming development plans such as the Engineering, Environment and Emerging Technologies (E3) Institute – itself the product of the largest-ever philanthropic donation in the history of the state – and the Grand Canal Innovation District will be used as examples to encourage alumni and other donors to invest in Trinity, as College seeks to position itself as an attractive investment opportunity for international and domestic donors.
The long-mooted Trinity Business School and the Science Gallery will also form a part of College’s pitch to potential financiers. Emphasis will be placed on Trinity’s impressive research output, with particular focus being paid to research into the prevention of cancer and dementia.
Bond said: “Higher education campaigns and developing the philanthropic culture of a university is something that is deeply ingrained within leading universities, particularly in the US but increasingly in the UK, and in Trinity we will follow in their footsteps and take our first step on this journey to ensure we remain a globally competitive and leading research-intensive university.”
This is not the first time Trinity has put philanthropy in the spotlight. Between 2015 and 2016, College secured over €73 million in pledged donations, with over 2,500 alumni making private donations.
While Trinity has stepped up in recent years its attempts to cultivate a network of alumni and donors, several older projects, such as the Long Room Hub and the 24-hour library, were also part-funded by gifts and donations.
As state funding of higher education has declined in recent years, Trinity has been forced to source alternative revenue streams, with only 40 per cent of the College’s budget currently coming from the state. Speaking at an address to staff in 2016, the midpoint of his term in office, Provost Patrick Prendergast predicted that “fees, philanthropy and commercial activities” would be the solution to Trinity’s financial concerns.
Trinity has also experimented with other ways of increasing funding, with College increasingly focusing on developing commercialisation and boosting tourism to the university. This strategy has involved improving visitors’ experiences in the College, increasing Trinity’s brand and working with corporations.
Unlike the US, Ireland does not have a history or tradition of philanthropic donations. Despite this, philanthropy has become increasingly common in recent years, with the UK’s prestigious Russell Group universities in particular placing a focus on private donations.