$2 Billion and Beyond
The goal is enormous, the possibilities breathtaking. As Johns Hopkins officially launches an ambitious new fund-raising campaign, we sit down with Robert Lindgren, vice president for development and alumni relations, to find out how he and his team of fund-raisers are gearing up to meet the challenge.
The "quiet phase" of this new campaign began on July 1, 2000, the day after the $1.52 billion Johns Hopkins Initiative ended. Is Johns Hopkins unique in embarking on a new campaign so soon?
Yes, it's a pretty unusual strategy we're involved in, though we aren't totally unique. We know that Vassar did something like this years ago, and Columbia University also did back-to-back campaigns.
Why move ahead so quickly?
It's a combination of factors. One, the Johns Hopkins Initiative had such success and generated such momentum and enthusiasm that it begged for continuing at a higher level.
Second, campaigns are not just about fund-raising. They are also a good deal about setting academic priorities within an institution. Virtually the entire leadership of Johns Hopkins turned over in the course of the Johns Hopkins Initiative (1994-2000) from the president to the provost to all the deans. While the new leadership's vision is not dramatically different, this whole new set of academic leaders is looking at the future of the Johns Hopkins institutions with fresh eyes. This is particularly true in Medicine, where there has been such a change in the way that we manage our medical enterprises.
And that's certainly a large part of why institutions do campaigns -- to articulate a set of academic priorities and test them in the marketplace.
The economic climate today is much less robust than it was 12 or even 18 months ago. Does that concern you?
You have to be bullish about doing these large campaigns. I just got back from a meeting of my counterparts at other large, private institutions, and we're all experiencing in this fiscal year a 10 to 15 percent drop in our [fund-raising numbers]. I think that's a direct result of the economic environment.
But when you look at a campaign over a seven-year period, you know that you're probably going to hit a high business cycle, just like you might hit a low business cycle. As I remind our staff, we're better off starting in a somewhat lower business cycle with the anticipation that things are going to get better than the other way around.
There are many donors who were key to the success of the
Johns Hopkins Initiative -- people who gave major,
multimillion-dollar gifts. Will you turn to them for help
again? Or focus instead on an entirely different pool of
The fact is, the best donors to Johns Hopkins, as at most institutions or charities, are previous donors. So as we look ahead, we expect that many of our top donors of this campaign will have participated in the last campaign.
Having said that, Johns Hopkins has derived a particular benefit from a group of donors whom we refer to as "grateful patients" -- individuals who have been treated here, or whose family members have been treated here, or who have an interest in a particular medical area as the result of a personal or family experience. With this particular group, new donors are being introduced to Johns Hopkins on a continuous basis.
Unlike alumni donors, who often tend to make their larger gifts some years after leaving the school, grateful patients make gifts very early in their relationship with the institution. The longer they are away from that medical experience, the less likely they are to contribute. So for that group, timing is crucial.
Half of the total goal, some $1 billion, is targeted toward priorities on the medical campus, particularly for new buildings...
Over the years, about half of what we have raised historically has come in for Medicine, so this isn't a shifting of priorities or more emphasis on Medicine. The fact that a larger percentage is for buildings is significant. It goes back to the question, why do a campaign now? In part, it's because we have such needs for these facilities and would be focusing fund-raising efforts on them anyway, so rolling them up into a larger campaign is a natural thing to do.
Clearly, we have a large need in East Baltimore to build new facilities. Basically two new clinical facilities -- a children's hospital and the Cardiac and Critical Care Tower that will move the sickest patients in the hospital into new facilities.
Secondly, we need to expand research space and support. We continue to attract a very large amount of research funding, particularly from sources like the National Institutes of Health where we were once again ranked number one among medical schools. When we analyze our research space, we are by far the most efficient among the major medical centers in the country in terms of grant dollars per square foot of research space. But there is a trade-off at some point in being too efficient. The downside is not having enough space. You have to rely on private philanthropy to provide the kind of support you give faculty, your ability to retain faculty, your ability to attract new faculty.
|Gilman Hall, the first academic building on the Homewood campus, is due for a $45 million restoration -- the first major overhaul since it opened in 1915.||
Is raising money for bricks-and-mortar projects particularly
Yes, I think in part because the numbers today are so large. We're talking about a children's hospital that is going to cost somewhere between $150- and $200 million. Hospitals today are constrained in the managed care environment by the sources that can be used to pay for such facilities; they can't borrow as much, they're not as profitable as they used to be. Part of the reality is that we need larger and more expensive buildings with a larger share of private dollars in the formula.
And, too, grateful patients are highly motivated by research. They're not as interested in building a research facility that someone will move into in five years. They're interested in solving a problem now.
We quite often will package space and research funding together -- ask for support not only for the professor's research, but also for a new laboratory where this professor is going to work.
Much has been written about the "new breed" of donor today -- Baby Boomers and Generation Xers passionate about supporting a particular cause -- who are less interested in having a building named in their honor than in eradicating a particular disease or ending illiteracy. In your experience, are today's donors more interested in seeing the "results" of their contributions?
Yes, absolutely. I think as fund-raising programs have become more sophisticated in higher education, we have become more specific about requests, which in turn has meant our donors have become more specific about the outcomes....
Do Baby Boomers and Gen Xers desire more specificity [regarding how their money is spent]? There is a lot of anecdotal evidence. I'm not sure whether it is a function of that generation being different as much as a function of their growing up in a philanthropic environment that is far more sophisticated than what their parents or grandparents dealt with.
Think about United Way. You used to give your money to the United Way -- the whole concept was that it was an unrestricted gift. You made it. They had a committee and doled it out to 48 different organizations and you and I didn't really get into it. Today, most of us tend to restrict our gifts. That's just the way the world is working.
What effect have the events of September 11 had on giving at Johns Hopkins?
The perspective of being almost seven months out is different than it was in the early fall, when we saw an almost immediate cessation of giving.
I would say the greatest challenge in philanthropy writ large is uncertainty. Anytime we're contemplating a major tax change, donors tend to hold back until they figure out what the landscape is. Since giving things away is such a permanent kind of decision, it often necessitates more certainty in the environment around the decisions.
So 9/11 certainly contributed to a sense of uncertainty for all of us. We were sensitive to the fact that we didn't want to continue to do our phone-a-thons and mailings as business as usual in the first weeks after the event.
... There's another whole line of thinking: What does 9/11 mean to us in terms of what's really important to us? People are returning to the institutions that are most important to them -- that provide the most meaning in their lives. To some extent we think that institutions like Johns Hopkins, those that are focused on the future, whether it be in education or research, are perhaps positive outlets for people as a result of September 11.
Two billion dollars is a staggering number and, ostensibly, a challenging goal to reach. Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night wondering: How're we going to do it?
Yes, $2 billion is a challenging goal -- it's about a 33 percent increase over the last campaign result of $1.52 billion, and we're hoping to do this campaign in a shorter period of time. The last campaign ran nine years. This campaign is scheduled to run about seven years, starting with the quiet phase.
While I don't think by any means that it is a foregone conclusion, I do think with lots of hard work, persuasion, and involvement that we can succeed. Hopkins is a great institution filled with wonderful people, and we are able to attract the support of our alumni and friends.
[Chuckles] But I learned a long time ago that waking up in the middle of the night doesn't help.
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