For public institutions, fundraising is a given. Private support is needed for UC San Diego to educate, innovate, and facilitate positive change. There’s educational, economic, and societal work to be done, environmental and medical battles to be won. But we’ve also been given a specific mission: a growth mandate to expand our student base. Which, of course, requires more faculty, staff, and student resources; and physical space.
We believe in being strategic. We believe in being transparent. Our donors deserve to know how money is helping and where it’s going—and that it is stewarded appropriately.
So, to support UC San Diego as we evolve our campus and change the world, we have embarked on the public phase of the Campaign for UC San Diego.
With a monetary goal of $2 billion, this fundraising campaign is strategic, specific, and ambitious. It is also self-perpetuating. In addition to the monetary goal, we’re taking what has been a loyal donor base and working to expand it. Specifically, we’re nurturing our connection with alumni to propel them to not just give, but to become campus ambassadors.
We’re integrating philanthropy into our culture in a way that’s sustainable. Because to both achieve our goals and meet our challenges, it takes more than immediate capital. It requires an underlying culture that will continue to foster private support.
Want to know more? Here, three key leaders of the Campaign for UC San Diego share their candid thoughts on the importance of fundraising today.
There are three goals of the Campaign. Number one is reaching our ambitious fundraising goal of $2 billion to support our role as a public university, reimagine our connection with the broader San Diego community, and transform our campus and our world.
An example: We are creating a living and learning campus infrastructure—by building mixed-use facilities that incorporate a wide range of campus needs from student housing, classrooms, and laboratories to multidisciplinary research centers—to promote collaboration and community across the university. This will enhance the student experience, modernize our campus, and spark research and innovation.
Additionally, as a student-centered university, our mission is to provide access to everybody, regardless of their means. For students who are smart, have the means, and are admitted to UC San Diego—no problem. The students of concern to me are the ones who are smart—who have the ability to come here—but don’t have the means. Those are the people who we, as an institution, should be finding ways to support through philanthropy.
The Chancellor’s Associates Scholarship Program is aimed at helping that group. We guarantee 600 students a year a loan-free education. And I plan to expand it to 800. The Campaign will support this sort of increased college access through direct scholarships.
Goal number two is expanding the donor base. And this is strategically a nontrivial goal. In the last campaign, we raised $1 billion, but we did not expand the donor base. Part of expanding the donor base will be establishing an intellectual and social connection with alumni. An institution of our caliber and our age has to be owned by the alumni, but we currently have a transactional relationship with our students: They come here, get a great education, graduate, and get great jobs. We’re trying to bring them back home.
The third goal of this Campaign is building a sustainable culture of philanthropy. What that means is chancellors come, chancellors go; administrations come, administrations go. But the underlying organization for advancement and development should keep on perpetuating itself, keep on supporting the campus, and continually look at ways to improve support for the campus.
UC San Diego cannot meet its goals without significant private philanthropy.
Funding from the state has continued to erode over the years, and there is no reason to believe that will change anytime in the future. There is no longer state funding for the development and construction of buildings. UC San Diego’s recent planning and construction of the Jacobs Medical Center was only possible due to the contribution of private donors, led by Joan and Irwin Jacobs, who set the stage for major private donations from many individuals in the community. And while federal grant support is strong, it is not necessarily a guarantee due to changes in political policy.
Developing successful partnerships with our donor community is critical to our ability to continue to grow and thrive.
Our trustees are key to identifying members of the community who have demonstrated a potential interest in UC San Diego. They are a diverse group of advocates who are typically well known and respected leaders in the community. They have relationships through business, volunteer efforts, alumni activities, and strong social networks that enable them to identify and introduce a broad range of colleagues and friends to UC San Diego and to encourage involvement and support.
And we have a robust recruitment program to engage those community folks to join in by serving on committees, joining other support boards within UC, and ultimately serving on our board of trustees.
Some people see us as this geeky little science school on the beach that is tucked down in the corner of USA and Mexico. Other people see a surfing school. But the word that people seem to use, the word that people gravitate toward, is sleepy. That is so contrary to the reality of what UC San Diego actually is.
We’re not a sleepy school. We’re one of the world’s best.
One is give!
The second one—probably just as important—is that alumni need to get much more involved in evangelizing the successes of UC San Diego. We are a top-15 research university in the world. Let's tell people that. We are top 20 for scientific impact, a top-10 public university in the nation ... we’re really, really good.
As alumni, we need to shout our accomplishments from the rooftops because people don’t know how good we are. When we are having conversations with friends, the media, or potential students, we need to talk about how great a university UC San Diego is. And that will lead to donations that will have a financial impact. And everything else is going to fall into place from there.
Universities today face a slew of modern obstacles. State dollars are less dependable. Students are more discriminating. Research partnerships are more difficult to win. So how do we capture and retain the attention of constituencies as varied as legislators, donors, and families?
Well, for UC San Diego, a large part of securing that attention is communicating our uniqueness, drawing upon the connections among our wildly diverse educational and research efforts.
We began by defining our campus. We looked at our critical mass of inspired innovators, edgy creatives, and experimental risk-takers. And we discovered that we’re united by a desire to take things apart, learn what makes them tick, and put them back together—in an attempt to make the world better. That’s our central brand identity.
In 2016, we rolled out our reimagined UC San Diego brand, complete with a set of tools to help campus marketers support our new identity. Conceived to unite the many voices of our institution, our new brand identity is no one-size-fits-all solution. It’s flexible and dynamic. In other words, par for the course on our campus.
The most public expression of our unified brand is our new advertising campaign—with its break things better call to action. Presented in a manner that’s impossible to miss, it showcases real-life examples of our take-it-apart-to-make-it-better strategy, featuring cutting-edge breakthroughs from cross-campus faculty. Developed through campus testing and an event-focused soft launch, this full-on print and digital ad campaign is aimed at recruiting the most mercilessly curious students. Other Breakers who will be at home in our community.
Consistency. Sophistication. No-holds-barred differentiation. Leveraging an attention-grabbing identity, we look forward to our conversation with the community in the months and years ahead.
Get ready to break things better.